Kidnapped in Colombia, then dead in a Sydney jail cell two weeks later
Two weeks ago Sydney property developer Dimitrios Mavris was kidnapped and rescued in one of Colombia’s most dangerous drug-trafficking hubs.
Eight days later he was arrested by Australian Federal Police officers at Sydney Airport and by Friday last week the 48-year-old, known lovingly as”Jim,” would be found dead in a Surry Hills jail cell.
It was an abrupt end to the life of the Sydney family man and former mechanic, which has left friends “shocked”.
Mr Mavris was arrested by AFP investigators as he arrived at Sydney International Airport last Wednesday, targeted over his alleged role in the importation of 59 kilograms of cocaine in a shipment of frozen fish from Peru.
The 48-year-old was due to apply for bail in Sydney’s Central Local Court on Wednesday, however he was found dead in his jail cell in Surry Hills last Friday. It is understood he died by suicide.
It has now been revealed that Mr Mavris was kidnapped and subsequently rescued in a rural area in Colombia just eight days prior to his arrest in Sydney.
Fairfax Media understands Mr Mavris was kidnapped on May 15 in Pereira, a city in western Colombia, before he was found by local police in an abandoned house in the rural area of Campo Hermoso, Buenaventura.
“Our Gaula Police in El Valle received information, managed to arrive where the foreigner was held. Effectively, we found him in an abandoned house. We are investigating the interest these people had on him and why they kidnapped him,” said Colonel Giovanny Puentes, operative commander from El Valle Police, in an English translation of a statement published by Blu Radio.
An apparent police photograph taken after Mr Mavris’ rescue shows the Australian wearing a bulletproof vest marked with “Policia Gaula”.
Local media reports have suggested Mr Mavris spent a week in captivity, after a vehicle he was travelling in was intercepted by armed individuals and he was taken to Buenaventura.
Colombia’s National Police has been contacted for comment.
The port city of Buenaventura is considered one of Colombia’s most notorious drug-trafficking hubs; its coastline a key cocaine smuggling point.
With a population of around 400,000, Buenaventura has one of the highest murder rates in South America.
In 2014, Human Rights Watch reported the existence of “casas de pique,” or “chop-up houses,” where victims of crime would be slaughtered by powerful paramilitary successor groups, their dismembered body parts dumped along the bay.
While the AFP would not comment on Mr Mavris’ time in Colombia, it is understood investigators had been probing his involvement in the alleged drug smuggling operation for an extended period.
Police were to allege the Woolloomooloo man imported three shipping containers with consignments of frozen fish from Peru into Australia, with two arriving on March 24 concealing 29kg and 30kg of cocaine respectively.
The drugs were wrapped in dozens of taped packages hidden behind wall panels of the containers.
The third container arrived in Sydney in September last year and is believed to have been a “dry run” for the alleged importation.
Investigations into the operation are continuing.
While Mr Mavris most recently worked in construction, he previously worked as a mechanic in the inner west and also owned and managed a car rental business.
To date, he is listed as a director of the Cyprus Hellene Club Ltd in Kyeemagh and of Mazzco Investments Pty Ltd, a company registered to an address in Woolloomooloo.
In a statement, NSW Police said a report will be prepared for the coroner, following Mr Mavris’ death last Friday, May 25.