16 tons of cocaine seized by feds at Philadelphia port

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Members of the ship's crew were arrested and federally charged.

"Homeland Security Investigations and Customs and Border Protection are leading a multi-agency inspection of shipping containers aboard a merchant ship at the Port of Philadelphia", Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement, according to NBC.

Under the cover of night, members of a ship's crew loaded "bales" of cocaine onto a vessel bound for the United States, expecting to earn tens of thousands of dollars for the job. Drug dogs marked the ship, and the cocaine was discovered inside eight containers from a cargo ship.

In February, customs agents seized 3,200 pounds at the Port of NY and New Jersey with a street value estimated at $77 million.

The US Attorney's Office called it one of the largest drug seizures in US history.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia estimated the drugs' value at more than $1 billion, it said on Twitter."This amount of cocaine could kill millions - MILLIONS - of people", U.S. Attorney in Pennsylvania William McSwain said on Twitter.

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Shown is the MSC Gayane container ship on the Delaware River in Philadelphia, Tuesday. According to the affidavit, Tiasaga said the four crew members each coordinated individual loads of cocaine.

Last March, federal agents seized 3,200 pounds of cocaine concealed behind crates of fruit on a ship at the Port of NY and New Jersey.

In February, customs agents seized 3,200 pounds (1,451 kilograms) at the Port of NY and New Jersey with a street value estimated at $77 million. It set off from the Colombian port of Buenaventura on May 19, making stops in Callao, Peru, on May 24, Cristobal, Panama, on June 9, and Freeport, The Bahamas on June 13 before it arrived in Philadelphia. It is considered the largest drug bust ever in the area.

"Mediterranean Shipping Company is aware of reports of an incident at the Port of Philadelphia in which US authorities made a seizure of illicit cargo".

The company says it's grateful to authorities for "identifying any suspected abuse of its services". At that price, sold by the kilo, the drugs would be worth more than US$419 million.

Tuesday's seizure did not set a US record.

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