Cargo ship seized in Philadelphia with nearly 20 tons of c**aine worth over $1 billion
In one of the largest drug busts in American history, the U.S authorities in Philadelphia seized a container ship owned by banking giant JP Morgan that was carrying nearly 20 tons of c**aine valued more than $1 billion.
The MSC Gayane was seized last week and is also “subject to possible forfeiture” to the federal government, U.S. Attorney William McSwain said in a statement released Monday.
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.
On June 17, border agents found 39,525 pounds of c**aine stashed in several containers on the MSC Gayane at the Philadelphia seaport.
The street value of the drugs was estimated at about $1.3 billion, making it the largest c**aine seizure by the agency.
At least half a dozen crew members have been arrested, according to Homeland Security Investigations, and the investigation is ongoing. Charges included conspiracy to possess c**aine aboard a ship.
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.”