Granny-flat hideout clue in search for drug diver

Alex Mitchell |

Da Silva may have hidden out at the property for weeks after the body of his dive partner was found.
Da Silva may have hidden out at the property for weeks after the body of his dive partner was found.

A missing Brazilian diver allegedly linked to a bungled cocaine importation plot spent at least a month hiding out in Sydney after an accomplice was found dead in the water, police say.

Investigators have searched a granny flat behind a property at Lurnea, in southwest Sydney, as part of their probe into the disappearance of Jhoni Fernandes Da Silva.

The 32-year-old has not been located since the body of his suspected dive partner and compatriot Bruno Borges Martins, 31, was found floating in Newcastle Harbour in May 2022.

Martins was wearing specialist diving equipment, while 54kg of cocaine was found nearby.

Police on Monday revealed that a forensic search had been carried out during the previous week on a granny flat that Da Silva was suspected to have used for up to two months.

Investigators believe he lived at the Jedda Rd property shortly after Martins’ body was found, before the older of the Brazilian pair vanished.

Luminol – which can detect traces of blood – was used during a forensic inspection of the property, while fingerprint and DNA evidence were also collected.

Da Silva was initially thought to have escaped with millions of dollars in cocaine after working to retrieve the drugs from a bulk carrier at the Port of Newcastle, but it is now thought that he is more likely to be dead.

Detectives previously said they were working to bring closure to his family, who had to live with not knowing what happened to him.

A recent search at a Menangle property, southwest of Sydney, led to the excavation of a buried truck that police believe could be linked to Da Silva’s disappearance.

It was seen travelling through Sydney in the hours before Martin was found dead.

Queensland superyacht operator James Blee pleaded guilty in December to importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug and people smuggling, and is due to be sentenced in August.

His son, James Lake-Kusviandy Blee is on bail awaiting trial after pleading not guilty to aiding and abetting his father in the importation and dealing with more than $100,000 from the proceeds of crime.

A manslaughter charge against the elder Blee, related to diving equipment provided to Martins, was withdrawn following his guilty pleas.