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MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, the world’s largest container shipping company, has issued a statement in response to a recent Bloomberg article that paints the shipping giant as being complacent to its role as a conduit in the drug smuggling trade between Latin America to Europe.
The Bloomberg article focusses on the record-setting cocaine bust on board the MSC Gayane in 2019 at the Port of Philadelphia, during which U.S. authorities seized nearly 18 metric tons of cocaine valued at over $1 billion. It also alleges, in no uncertain terms, that MSC as a company has been infiltrated a cocaine-smuggling cartel (it’s literally titled How a Cocaine-Smuggling Cartel Infiltrated the World’s Biggest Shipping Company).
“As MSC grew into a dominant force in global trade, it also became a prime drug-trafficking conduit for Balkan gangs,” the article’s subheading reads.
MSC says the article mainly rehashes what’s already been publicly reported on the case.
gCaptain has covered the MSC Gayane story extensively. Most recently, the U.S. Department of Justice charged a former heavyweight boxer from Montenegro of various crimes related to conspiring to smuggle of massive quantities of cocaine in shipping containers transported by MSC ships, including the MSC Gayane and on two other occasions, between May 2018 and July 2019.
Crew members on board the MSC Gayane used one of the ship’s crane to load the drugs at sea from small boats under the cover of night.
The boxer, Goran Gogic, was arrested in late October as he attempted to board an international flight at the Miami International Airport. According to the DOJ, he coordinated with cocaine suppliers in Colombia, other crewmembers on the ships, and a network of port workers who transported and offloaded the cocaine in Europe via the United States. So far, at least six MSC Gayane crew members, among them top ranking officers and engineers, have been pleaded guilty in the case.
“Most of the elements in the Bloomberg story have already been publicly reported during the 3 ½ years since the Gayane incident and MSC’s Victim Impact Statement related to the incident is filed in court,” MSC said in its statement.
“MSC strongly objects to Bloomberg’s headline claim that the subversion of a small number of seafarers from Montenegro, in what remain very specific circumstances, amounts to the ‘company’ being ‘infiltrated’ by a drugs cartel.”
Bloomberg’s article includes the revelation that federal prosecutors are building a civil case against MSC in relation to the Gayane case.
“The MSC GAYANE incident was certainly a wake-up call for the entire container shipping and logistics industry, given the elaborate nature of the underlying criminal activity,” MSC’s statement says.
“Since learning of this increased threat in 2019, MSC has significantly intensified its own security efforts, investing far in excess of USD50 million in 2022, and will continue to do so in future years. MSC is today recognized as the industry leader for its anti-smuggling efforts.”
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