Federal agents seized 15,500 kilos of cocaine, more than 16.5 tons, with a street value of $1 billion at a South Philadelphia Port on Tuesday, according to NBC Philadelphia.
“This is one of the largest drug seizures in United States history,” Tweeted U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain.
This is one of the largest drug seizures in United States history. 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. https://t.co/nWPfgpGqYa
— US Attorney William M. McSwain (@USAttyMcSwain) June 18, 2019
The cocaine was seized from the ship MSC Gayane, which was traveling from Chile, Panama and the Bahamas before docking in Philadelphia’s Delaware River, according to the Hill.
The ship was loaded with tons of illegal drugs in the Bahamas before reaching the United States this afternoon, investigators told NBC Philadelphia. It was set to depart for Europe before federal officials boarded it in Philadelphia.
Seven shipping containers concealed the illegal drugs, which agents opened, revealing the 16.5 tons of drugs in bags, an official said, according to ABC News.
The U.S. Attorney for Eastern Pennsylvania Tweeted that “Members of the ship’s crew have been arrested and federally charged, and an investigation is on-going.”
A “massive” task force has been mobilized to gather more information about the shipment. Officials with the Customs and Border Patrol and Immigration, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Customs Enforcement of the Department of Homeland Security are all involved.
McSwain, noting the recent trend to mix cocaine with fentanyl, told NBC Philadelphia that “the ship contained enough cocaine to ‘kill millions of people.’”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl is “50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine,” and is responsible for thousands of overdose deaths each year.
The bust marks Philadelphia’s second major drug-seizure of the year. $38 million worth of cocaine was seized in March after dogs sniffed out the drugs in a Philadelphia port.
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