Law enforcement on Tuesday seized more than $1 billion worth of cocaine from a cargo ship docked at the Port of Philadelphia, making it one of the biggest drug busts in the nation’s history.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said federal law enforcement agents boarded the MSC Gayane, which was docked at the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal along the Delaware River on Tuesday afternoon, and netted 15,000 kilos of cocaine. That’s about 16.5 tons of the potentially lethal narcotic.
U.S. Attorney William McSwain said in a tweet that such an amount of cocaine “could kill millions – MILLIONS – of people. My Office is committed to keeping our borders secure and streets safe from deadly narcotics.”
Members of the cargo ship crew have been arrested and face federal charges, officials said. Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Patrol said that a massive investigation is underway.
“Homeland Security Investigations and Customs and Border Protection are leading a multi-agency inspection of shipping containers aboard a merchant ship at the Port of Philadelphia,” ICE said in a statement. “We will release additional details when it is appropriate to do so.”
The drugs were reportedly found at the Packer Marine Terminal, the largest dock along the Delaware River, which recieves huge container ships from overseas.
Investigators think the seven containers were loaded with drugs at its last port of call in the Bahamas, senior law enforcement officials told NBC Philly. The cargo ship reportedly made stops in Chile, Panama and the Bahamas.
In March, authorities netted $18 million worth of cocaine, which was the largest cocaine bust in the history of Port of Philadelphia.
Last summer, $1.7 million worth of fentanyl was seized at Port of Philadelphia as well.