A massive drug at the Port of Philadelphia has resulted in the seizure of 16.5 tons of cocaine with an estimated street value of over $1 billion, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Tuesday afternoon.
The drug bust took place on a cargo ship, identified as the MSC Gayane, that was docked at the port, officials confirmed. Several members of the ship's crew have been arrested and federally charged by authorities.
The Gayane had previously stopped in Colombia, Chile, Panama, and the Bahamas before ultimately making its way to Philadelphia.
Agents boarded the vessel and found the container they said was holding the drugs. They removed the container from the ship and took it to an undisclosed federal facility for analysis. Authorities will weigh the cocaine and look for other evidence that may be present, including DNA. Officials suspect that there may be more drugs in other containers on the ship. Customs agents are currently searching the ship's other containers.
"This is one of the largest drug seizures in United States history," U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain said in a statement on Twitter about the bust. "This amount of cocaine could kill millions – MILLIONS – of people. My Office is committed to keeping our borders secure and streets safe from deadly narcotics."
According to shipping records, the Gayane was built in 2018 and flies a flag out of the African country of Liberia. The vessel arrived in Philadelphia on Monday at around 5 a.m.
The 16.5 tons of cocaine is the largest drug bust in the history of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Earlier this year in March, another massive cocaine bust worth over $38 million was uncovered at the Port of Philadelphia.