Biggest ever drug bust - 15 tonnes of coke seized in MSC ship in Philadelphia
US CUSTOMS in the Port of Philadelphia have seized 15
US CUSTOMS in the Port of Philadelphia have seized 15.5 tonnes of cocaine from containers aboard the 10,000-TEU MSC Gayane, reports Fort Lauderdale's Maritime Executive.
It is the largest drug seizure in the history of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, large enough to equal seven percent of the US Coast Guard's cocaine interdiction total for FY2017.
The MSC Gayane is assigned to the NWC - USA - SAWC rotation, and she called at ports in the Bahamas, Panama, Colombia and Peru prior to her arrival at the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal in Philadelphia.
Local media reported that the shipment of cocaine was ultimately intended for delivery at the Gayane's next destinations in the Netherlands and France.
According to charging documents, members of the Gayane's crew brought the drugs aboard during multiple rendezvous with small boats at sea, then concealed the narcotics in seven containers. Two crewmen confessed to involvement and have been charged in federal court, including the Gayane's second officer, Ivan Durasevic.
'Upon leaving Peru on this current voyage, [Durasevic] got a call from the Chief Officer to come down to the deck, at which time he saw nets on the port side stern by the ship's crane,' prosecutors alleged in charging documents. 'Durasevic and four others assisted in the pushing of the nets toward Hold Seven or Eight of the vessel.'
Prosecutors allege that the chief officer and the ship's electrician were also involved in the scheme.
In a statement, MSC said that it regularly works with law enforcement to address smuggling. 'Unfortunately, shipping and logistics companies are from time to time affected by trafficking problems. MSC has a longstanding history of cooperating with law enforcement.'