Police are calling for further witnesses to alleged torture and slavery by a Karumba commercial fishing operator following the man’s arrest this morning.
Cairns detectives charged the 47-year-old Karumba man with 46 offences on Wednesday amid allegations he assaulted, threatened, and withheld food and water from crew members on his fishing vessels.
The arrest was made as part of Operation Victor Diabelli, which was launched in 2023 following reports the man allegedly made threats against a number of deckhands under his supervision.
On 9 January, 2024, search warrants were executed on a property in Karumba and four fishing vessels, with police alleging an illegal firearm was located on one of the boats.
The man has been charged with 18 counts of common assault, 10 counts of assault occasioning bodily harm, three counts of assault occasioning bodily harm whilst armed, five counts each of torture and slavery, and one count of stealing.
He was remanded in custody and is due to appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court on 9 February, 2024.
Detective Sergeant Bradley McLeish urged further victims and witnesses to come forward, adding that all complaints would be fully investigated.
“If you have information that could assist this investigation, we want to hear from you,” Detective Sergeant McLeish said.
“Victims who may be subject to harassment or intimidation in relation to speaking to police are assured that all offenders will be held accountable for their actions.
“Anyone making threats to potential witnesses or victims can expect a visit from detectives very soon.”