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New record: $1 billion cocaine bust on ship at Port of Philly

Authorities search a container along the Delaware River in Philadelphia, Tuesday, June 18, 2019. U.S. authorities have seized more than $1 billion worth of cocaine from a ship at a Philadelphia port, calling it one of the largest drug busts in American history. The U.S. attorney’s office in Philadelphia announced the massive bust on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon. Officials said agents seized about 16.5 tons (15 metric tons) of cocaine from a large ship at the Packer Marine Terminal. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

PortandTerminal.com, June 18, 2019

Federal authorities have seized approximately 16.5 tons of cocaine from a ship at the Port of Philadelphia, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania tweeted Tuesday.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said that today’s drug bust marks the largest drug seizure in the history of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The drugs have an estimated street value of approximately $1 billion the office said.

Photo: The container ship MSC Gayane, with police and other official vehicles today at the Port of Philadelphia

At least some crew members on board the ship have been arrested, the Attorney’s office said in another tweet. An investigation is on-going.

The Mediterranean Shipping Company said in a statement they are taking “this matter very seriously.”

The length of the investigation could continue long enough that the vessel will have to be moved to make way for other incoming ship traffic.

Local NBC affiliate NBC10 reported that federal agents were seen boarding the MSC Gayane on Tuesday. AIS data shows it arrived at the port early Monday morning. The ship had previously called at Colombia, Chile, Panama and the Bahamas, the report said.

16.5 tons of cocaine were found in 7 containers

Back in March, a joint operation involving the U. S. Customs and Border Protection seized approximately 3,200 pounds of cocaine from a ship at the Port of New York and New Jersey in what officials at the time said was the largest seizure of drugs at the port since 1994.

The seizure comes on the heels of several major busts at the Port of Philadelphia, located about 8 miles up the Delaware River from the Packer Marine Terminal.

Among them were seizures of 450 kilograms of cocaine in May, 538 kilos of cocaine in March and 50 kilos of the powerful opioid, fentanyl, in July, WPVI reported.

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