Authorities in Philadelphia have seized what they believe to be more than $1 billion worth of cocaine in what's being described as one of the largest drug busts in U.S. history.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania announced Tuesday that agents had seized 16.5 tons of cocaine from a cargo ship in Philadelphia. In a tweet, the office said the vessel was docked at the Packer Marine Terminal in Philadelphia, but it did not mention the name of the ship.
According to NBC10, the cocaine was found in seven containers aboard the MSC Gayane. Vesselfinder.com indicates that the Gayane, currently docked in Philadelphia, had previously called at Freeport on Grand Bahama island. CBS3 reports that the vessel had also recently been to Panama, Peru and Colombia. It was on its way to the Netherlands.
In a tweet, U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain said the bust "is one of the largest drug seizures in United States history."
"This amount of cocaine could kill millions — MILLIONS — of people," McSwain tweeted. "My Office is committed to keeping our borders secure and streets safe from deadly narcotics."
McSwain's office said members of the crew had been arrested and charged with federal trafficking. Court documents filed Tuesday named two crew members, Ivan Durasevic and Fonofaavae Tiasage, charged with "conspiracy to possess cocaine aboard a ship subject to U.S. jurisdiction," according to The Associated Press.
The Philadelphia Inquirer, citing an unnamed port employee who was not authorized to discuss the matter, reports that investigators boarded the vessel with drug-sniffing dogs on Monday and found the cocaine "hidden in bags and housed among legitimate cargo in seven shipping containers bound for the U.S. and Europe."