Cargo Ship Seized In Philadelphia With Nearly 20 Tons Of Cocaine Worth Over $1 Billion

A cargo ship that was holding 16.5 tons of cocaine worth over $1 billion (£798.4m) was seized in one of the largest cocaine hauls in the history of US Customs.

The $90 million (£71.8m) ship - called MSC Gayane - is owned by a transportation strategy fund which is run by banking giant JP Morgan Chase's management unit, MailOnline reports.

It is believed that the bank has no operational control over the ship and it is being chartered to the Swiss-based Mediterranean Shipping Company.

The cocaine seized amounted to the largest cocaine bust in US Customs history. Credit: PA
The cocaine seized amounted to the largest cocaine bust in US Customs history. Credit: PA

The Class A drug was seized by federal officials at the Philadelphia port on 17 June and it is now being dubbed the biggest cocaine haul in US Customs history.

According to MailOnline, the drugs were in cargo containers which were removed at the Packer Marine Terminal. The boat arrived there following a port call in Colombia on 19 May.

It also made stop-offs in Peru, Panama and the Bahamas before reaching Philadelphia.

The drugs were seized by the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency and in total are said to have a street value of around $1.3bn (£1bn).

The Class A drug was seized after law enforcement officers boarded the ship. Credit: PA
The Class A drug was seized after law enforcement officers boarded the ship. Credit: PA

MailOnline reports there have been at least six arrests of crew members from Serbia and Samoa. They are believed to have been charged with conspiracy to possess cocaine aboard a ship.

In a statement to CNN on Monday, US Attorney William McSwain said: "A seizure of a vessel this massive is complicated and unprecedented - but it is appropriate because the circumstances here are also unprecedented.

"When a vessel brings such an outrageous amount of deadly drugs into Philadelphia waters, my Office and our agency partners will pursue the most severe consequences possible against all involved parties in order to protect our district - and our country."

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) said on 18 June: "MSC 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. MSC takes this matter very seriously and is grateful to the authorities for identifying any suspected abuse of its services.

"Unfortunately, shipping and logistics companies are from time to time affected by trafficking problems. MSC has a longstanding history of cooperating with US federal law enforcement agencies to help disrupt illegal narcotics trafficking and works closely with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

"MSC is committed to working with authorities and industry groups worldwide to improve the security of the international supply chain and ensure that illegal practices are dealt with promptly and thoroughly by the relevant authorities."

LADbible has contacted JP Morgan for comment.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Rebecca Shepherd

I'm Becky - a journalist at LADbible. I graduated with a First Class BA in Journalism before going on to cover criminal court cases, medical tribunals and breaking news for the national media - which inevitably and eventually became as glum as it sounds. Can often be found rocking a bag for life - which I made a 'thing' way before Rihanna. You can contact me at [email protected]

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