16 tons of cocaine worth $1 billion seized in shipping containers at Philadelphia port

The MSC Gayane is moored on the Delaware River in Philadelphia, Tuesday, June 18, 2019. U.S. authorities have seized more than $1 billion worth of cocaine from seven shipping containers aboard the vessel. Photo: Matt Rourke/AP

PHILADELPHIA — Federal authorities seized more then 16 tons of cocaine valued at more than a $1 billion in shipping containers Tuesday at a port in Philadelphia.

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The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced the drug bust in a social media post, calling it “the largest drug seizure in the history of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania,” and possibly in U.S. history.

A senior law enforcement official told WCAU-TV that the drugs were found in seven containers aboard the Liberian-based ship MSC Gayane, which had made stops in Colombia, Chile, Panama and the Bahamas, before arriving at Packer Marine Terminal early Monday morning.

The investigation into the drug transport and the seizure involved multiple agencies, including Customs and Border Patrol, the Department of Homeland Security and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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It's the latest in a series of large drug busts along the East Coast in recent months, according to The Associated Press. Philadelphia authorities seized 1,185 pounds of cocaine worth about $38 million in March, and about 3,200 pounds of the drug valued at $77 million in February, at the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The shipping terminal where Tuesday's bust occurred is the largest along the Delaware River with seven unloading cranes, WCAU reported.