Feds Seize Cargo Ship That Smuggled $1.3 Billion In Cocaine Out Of Liberia

By Stephen Dinan  |The Washington Times  |

This file photo from June 24, 2019, shows the MSC Gayane moored at the Packer Marine Terminal in Philadelphia. Customs authorities announced on Monday, July 8, 2019, they have seized the cargo ship where agents discovered nearly 40,000 pounds, or almost 18,000 kilograms, of cocaine when the vessel was inspected in Philadelphia last month. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The ship that carried nearly 20 tons of cocaine into a U.S. port last month has been seized and the government is aiming to claim it under forfeiture laws, authorities said Monday.

The MSC Gayane, flagged out of Liberia, was detained last month in Philadelphia when it was found to have 39,525 pounds of cocaine concealed in seven of its shipping containers. The drugs had a street value of about $1.3 billion.

Authorities said seizing such a massive cargo vessel — the Gayane is more than 300 meters long — is unprecedented, but deserved.

“When a vessel brings such an outrageous amount of deadly drugs into Philadelphia waters, my office and our agency partners will pursue the most severe consequences possible against all involved parties in order to protect our district – and our country,” said William M. McSwain the U.S. attorney for Philadelphia.

The ship is being held by Customs and Border Protection.

Casey Durst, CBP’s director of field operations for its Baltimore office, said it’s never seized such a large vessel in the 230-year history of the customs service.

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