Authorities Find 16.5 Tons of Cocaine on Ship at Port of Philadelphia

msc gayane
File photo of the MV MSC Gayane. Photo courtesy MarineTraffic.com/Hans Schaefer

Federal authorities have seized approximately 16.5 tons of cocaine from a ship at the Port of Philadelphia, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania tweeted Tuesday.

The drugs were seized on a ship at the Packer Marine Terminal on the Delaware River.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said the drug bust marks the largest drug seizure in the history of the district. The drugs have an estimated street value of approximately $1 billion the office said.

The amount of drugs would rank in among the top drug seizures in U.S. history, including 21 tons of cocaine that was seized in California and 14 tons of cocaine in Texas both in 1989, Reuters reported.

At least some crew members on board the ship have been arrested, the Attorney’s office said in another tweet.

An investigation is on-going.

Local NBC affiliate NBC10 reported that federal agents were seen boarding the MSC Gayane on Tuesday. AIS data shows it arrived at the port early Monday morning. The ship had previously called at Colombia, Chile, Panama and the Bahamas, the report said.

Back in March, a joint operation involving the U. S. Customs and Border Protection seized approximately 3,200 pounds of cocaine from a ship at the Port of New York and New Jersey in what officials at the time said was the largest seizure of drugs at the port since 1994.

The Packer Avenue Marine Terminal back in March received two new super post-panamax cranes, bringing the total number of operational cranes at the PhilaPort to seven, including five super post-panamax.