Federal officers have now successfully seized a total of 16 tonnes worth of cocaine from a shipping port in Philadelphia, making it the biggest cocaine haul in the history of US customs.
On Friday, authorities revealed the street value of the seized drugs amounted to $1.1 billion, adding that if the 15,000 bricks of cocaine were lined up, they would stretch to two and a half miles, according to Casey Durst, director of field operations in the US Customs and Border Protection Baltimore field office.
Six crew members have been arrested, none of whom are from the US. All of them will appear in federal court on Monday. The crew members have all been charged with conspiracy to possess cocaine aboard a ship and have been appointed a federal public defender.
US Attorney William McSwain told the alleged offenders in a press conference:
You thought you could breeze to our port and leave with enough cocaine to destroy millions of lives without getting caught. You thought you were clever. You were wrong.
You underestimated the city, you underestimated our law enforcement capabilities, and you underestimated our commitment to decimate the evil and immoral drug trade.
Earlier in the week agents were inspecting containers aboard the MSC Gayane, which was flying a Liberian flag, when they discovered 16.5 tonnes of cocaine on the ship bound for Europe.
Shipping records reveal the MSC Gayane also made stops in Peru, Panama and the Bahamas before making its way to the US, as reported by ABC News.
The incident is the latest in a number of cocaine busts taking place along the East Coast.
In February, customs at the Port of New York and New Jersey seized 3,200 pounds of cocaine, with a street value of $77 million, in the largest bust seen at the port since 1994.
Then in March, drug dogs sniffed out 1,185 pounds of the substance, worth around $38 million, in Philadelphia, in the city’s largest seizure in more than two decades, until now.
Experts have claimed the recent surge in cocaine trafficking is largely down to the excess supply found in Colombia, where efforts to eradicate the production of the drugs have been more relaxed in recent years.
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining the LADbible Group team in 2017.