The container ship MSC Gayane, which was found to be carrying nearly 20 tons of cocaine in a USD $1.3 billion drug bust launched last month at the Port of Philadelphia, has been seized.
Described as “one of the largest drug seizures in United States history” by US Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania William McSwain, an investigation into the case has been ongoing since the cocaine haul was first discovered.
According to a report from NBC, the vessel will remain in Philadelphia waters after being anchored in the middle of the Delaware Bay.
— Lucie Rachedi (@Lucie2you) July 9, 2019
While it was first stated that 16.5 tons of the drug were found aboard the ship, this number grew to 19.76 in the days that followed.
With MSC Gayane now in anchorage, it is said that the US Customs and Border Protection will continue the seizure process.
At this time, six members of the ship’s crew have been charged for bringing the cocaine onto the ship while it was travelling near the coast of Peru in June 2019, including second mate Ivan Durasevic who admitted to being paid $50,000 to help smugglers move the drug.
As promised, here’s my statement on the seizure of the shipping vessel MSC Gayane. pic.twitter.com/KiquaeaXcB
— US Attorney William M. McSwain (@USAttyMcSwain) July 8, 2019
In a statement, 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.”
Following the discovery, ship owner MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company committed to working with authorities and industry groups to “improve the security of the international supply chain”.