U.S. Customs and Border Protection has seized the MSC Gayane following
last month’s record seizure of 20 tons of cocaine hidden in containers on board
the vessel at the Port of Philadelphia.
The CBP said Monday 8 July ‘19 that the vessel was seized July 4
after CBP agents executed a seizure warrant issued by the U.S. District Court
for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
seizure in the 230-year history of U.S. Customs and Border Protection
The seizure follows last month’s record
drug bust at the Packer Marine Terminal in Philadelphia which netted
39,525 pounds of cocaine worth a street value of about $1.3 billion, making it
the largest cocaine seizure in the 230-year history of U.S. Customs and Border
Several crew members have been
arrested in connection to the drugs, which were allegedly loaded
during from small boats at sea.
This action a reminder
to enforce stringent security measures to prevent smuggling
“The MSC Gayane is the largest vessel seized in U.S. Customs and
Border Protection’s 230-year history and follows the record seizure of almost
20-tons of cocaine discovered on the vessel,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Director
of Field Operations in Baltimore. “Seizing a vessel of this size is an
unusual enforcement action for CBP, but is indicative of the serious
consequences associated with an alleged conspiracy by crewmembers and others to
smuggle a record load of dangerous drugs through the United States. This action
serves as a reminder for all shipping lines and vessel masters of their
responsibilities under U.S. and international law to implement and enforce
stringent security measures to prevent smuggling attempts such as this.”
Prior to arriving in Philadelphia on June 16, the MSC Gayane
made port calls in Chile, Peru, Panama and the Bahamas. The ship’s final
destination was ultimately northern Europe, with calls scheduled at Rotterdam,
Antwerp and Le Havre.
All cleared cargo to
be transshipped to other MSC vessels and sent to their destinations says the
MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company has said it is cooperating
with U.S. authorities in the investigation into the incident. In an update to customers with cargo on board
the vessel, the company said all cargoes on board the vessel that have cleared
by authorities have now been transshipped to other MSC vessels and sent on to
“MSC regrets this delay and thanks you for your patience. Please
understand however that we must follow the instructions of the authorities when
such serious abuses of our services are being investigated, whether in relation
to the vessel or its cargo,” the update said.
The Liberian-flagged MSC Gayane operates on MSC’s NWC-USA-SAWC
The company to
continue to support the authorities
“Drug trafficking is a serious issue which impacts the entire
shipping and logistics sector. MSC remains grateful to the government officials
in the U.S. for their proactive work and has offered its continued support,
building on a longstanding track record of good cooperation with the
authorities,” MSC’s update added.