Dimitrios Mavris was found dead in his cell at Surry Hills police station less than 48 hours after being arrested over allegedly importing 59 kilograms of cocaine – $20 million worth – hidden among frozen fish.

The Greek Australian property developer who lived in Sydney’s Woolloomooloo, was arrested at Sydney International Airport on 23 May and was being kept in a Corrective Services cell at the station, with an upcoming bail application set to be made in Sydney’s Central Local Court on Wednesday.

It is understood Mr Mavris died by suicide.

His lawyer Sam Chamas expressed shock over the incident, claiming that when he last saw his client that Mr Mavris was “feeling good” about his bail application.

“I don’t understand how this could happen,” Mr Chamas told the ABC.

“I visited my client on Friday morning and he was in good spirits,” adding “I will be pushing for answers from police.”

The 48-year-old was facing charges of hiding the cocaine among frozen fish in three shipping containers sent from Peru between September 2017 and March 2018. It was discovered by the Australian Border Force, with around 29 kg of cocaine found in one container, and 30 kg in another.

Prior to his arrest, Mr Mavris had no previous criminal record, known to be a family man.

Amid the investigation it has since been revealed that he had been kidnapped for a few days in Bogota, Colombia and rescued by local police in an abandoned house in Campo Hermoso, Buenaventura, a rural area notorious for drug smuggling rings, before returning to Sydney.

“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,” operative commander from El Valle Police, Colonel Giovanny Puentes said.

Investigations into the drug operation are continuing.