July 9, 2019
U.S. Customs seize container ship after finding almost 18 tons of cocaine on board
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the Port of Philadelphia seized the container ship MSC Gayane last week, following a record seizure of 18 tons of cocaine in mid-June.
During a midstream joint boarding U.S. authorities detected anomalies while examining seven shipping containers aboard the MSC Gayane, a 10,700 TEU container ship. The boarding team escorted the ship to its berth in South Philadelphia and continued its inspection.
The containers were unloaded from the vessel and CBP confirmed the presence of anomalies. CBP escorted the containers to CBP's Centralized Examination Station, where CBP officers offloaded truckloads of packages from the containers.
A combined 15,582 bricks were found totaling 17,928.21 kilograms, or 39,525 pounds, of cocaine with a street value of nearly US$1.3 billion. CBP seized the cocaine as well as $56,330 found on the vessel believed to be proceeds from illegal activity.
The contents of the shipping containers also included wine, coated paperboard, vegetable extracts, and dried nuts from Chile, carbon black from Colombia, and scrap metal batteries from United Arab Emirates. They were destined to Ireland, Nigeria, South Africa, Lebanon, India, and Haiti. The MSC Gayane had made port calls to Chile, Peru, Panama and the Bahamas before arriving in Philadelphia.
The ship was en route to northern Europe at the time of the incident, with calls scheduled at Rotterdam, Antwerp and Le Havre. Aside from the containers which have been held by U.S. authorities as part of their ongoing investigations, all cargoes on the MSC Gayane have been transshipped to other MSC vessels and sent on to their respective destinations.