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Crew members arrested in $1bn cocaine bust on MSC ship

At least two crew members from an MSC containership have been charged after an estimated $1bn worth of cocaine was found on the vessel in Philadelphia port.

Law enforcement officials were reported to have found 16.5 tons of cocaine with a street value of over $1bn in seven containers onboard the MSC Gayane at Packer Marine Terminal in Philadelphia.

The US Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania said members of the ship’s crew had been arrested and charged, with investigations ongoing. According to reports at least to crew members had been charged with trafficking.

The vessel had previously called in Colombia, Chile, Panama and the Bahamas, and was bound for Europe.

It is reportedly the largest drug’s seizure in the region’s history.

MSC said in a statement: “MSC 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. MSC takes this matter very seriously and is grateful to the authorities for identifying any suspected abuse of its services.

“Unfortunately, shipping and logistics companies are from time to time affected by trafficking problems. MSC has a longstanding history of cooperating with US federal law enforcement agencies to help disrupt illegal narcotics trafficking and works closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP),” it added.

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