PortandTerminal.com, June 22, 2019
U.S. Customs and Border Protection says a multi-agency search of an international cargo ship at the Philadelphia Seaport this week has netted what it calls “the largest cocaine seizure” in its 230-year history: 17.5 tons.
PHILADELPHIA – Authorities have now weighed 17.5 tonnes of cocaine, one tonne more than originally reported, taking the street value of the haul to in excess of $1.1bn.
Law enforcement officials held a show-and-tell briefing on Friday in the lobby of the U.S. Customs House in Philadelphia. Tables were stacked with bricks of cocaine. Behind them, boxes stuffed with cocaine were stacked more than six feet high.
“What you see here today is only a quarter of the seizure,”Casey Durst, CBP director of field operations at the Baltimore field office
Casey Durst, CBP director of field operations at the Baltimore field office, said that if all of the 15,582 plastic-wrapped bricks were laid end to end, they would stretch 2.5 miles (4.2 km).
Four more crew of the 9,962 teu ship have been arrested along with the initial pair as seafarers are grilled about how the illicit drug came onboard the huge ship that was raided on Monday morning when it docked at the Port of Philadelphia. If convicted, all face possible life prison sentences.
“You thought you could breeze to our port and leave with enough cocaine to destroy millions of lives without getting caught. You thought you were clever. You were wrong.” said U.S. Attorney William McSwain, whose office is handling the prosecutions.
“You underestimated the city, you underestimated our law enforcement capabilities, and you underestimated our commitment to decimate the evil and immoral drug trade.”
In the wake of the contraband find, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has temporarily suspended MSC’s Customs Trade Partnership (C-TPAT) certification, meaning US authorities for the time being do not assess the carrier as ‘low-risk’ so more scrutiny of its shipments can be expected in the coming days and weeks. MSC admitted in a client advisory yesterday clients can expect “minimal disruption” from the C-TPAT decision. C-TPAT a voluntary partnership between governments and carriers to ensure supply chain security.
“MSC will continue to collaborate with authorities worldwide, to ensure our vessels are secure and can deliver our customers’ cargo safely and reliably,” MSC stated yesterday.
Embarrassingly for MSC, this is the second drugs bust on one of its ships at the same port in the space of just three months.
In March another MSC vessel, the 9,400 teu MSC Desiree, was raided when calling at Philadelphia and a stash of cocaine worth $38m was found onboard.
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