Federal authorities have made what they called one of the largest cocaine busts in United States history: 16 tons of the drug, worth more than $1 billion.
The drugs were found in seven containers aboard the MSC Gayane cargo ship, which was leaving for Europe after having previously called in Chile, Panama and the Bahamas, according to local media. Arrest records obtained by the Inquirer identify the crew members as Ivan Durasevic and Fonofaavae Tiasaga, who admitted to smuggling the drugs.
Another huge drug raid went down in February, when customs agents seized 3,200 pounds of cocaine at the Port of NY and New Jersey totaling about $77 million - the largest bust at a port since 1994.
Earlier this year, $77 million in cocaine was seized in Newark when investigators cracked open a shipping container.
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The U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia estimated the drugs' value at more than $1 billion, it said on Twitter."This amount of cocaine could kill millions - MILLIONS - of people", U.S. Attorney in Pennsylvania William McSwain said on Twitter. It wasn't clear whether other crew members would face charges.
"Mediterranean Shipping Company is aware of reports of an incident at the Port of Philadelphia in which US authorities made a seizure of illicit cargo".
The drug seizure is the latest in a series of large cocaine busts along the East Coast.
In February, customs agents seized 3,200 pounds (1,451 kilograms) at the Port of NY and New Jersey with a street value estimated at $77 million.
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The MSC Gayane's owner, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Co., said in a statement it was "aware of reports of an incident at the Port of Philadelphia in which USA authorities made a seizure of illicit cargo". The U.S. Attorney's Office says 16.5 tons of cocaine worth $1 billion was confiscated.
"Homeland Security Investigations and Customs and Border Protection are leading a multi-agency inspection of shipping containers aboard a merchant ship at the Port of Philadelphia", Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement, according to NBC.
Tuesday's seizure did not set a USA record.
16 tons of cocaine seized by feds at Philadelphia port
USA authorities have seized more than $1 billion worth of cocaine from a ship, reportedly the Gayane, at a Philadelphia port. It is unclear whether the drugs seized on Tuesday were intended for the US or Europe, where the ship was ultimately bound.