Posted on June 19, 2019 by Ilias Kiritsis
Federal authorities in Philadelphia seized over 16.5 tons of Cocaine from the Liberian-flagged Container Ship, MSC GAYANE during the evening of June the 17th.
The massive drug bust occurred at the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal Port located in Delaware River, South Philadelphia, United States.
According to local authorities, this has been the biggest seizure in the region’s history. Over 15,500 kilos of cocaine were found inside seven different containers onboard the vessel, with an estimated street value of $1 Billion.
At least two crew members of the MSC Gayane have been charged with drug trafficking, but several more have been implicated and it is expected that the number of arrests will rise over the coming days.
Allegedly, the crew members of the containership brought the drugs onboard while the vessel was in transit, using nets and cranes.
Gayane’s Second Officer, Ivan Durasevic admitted to his involvement in the drug smuggling.
“Upon leaving Peru on this current voyage, he got a call from the Chief Officer to come down to the deck, at which time he saw nets on the port side stern by the ship’s crane. Durasevic and approximately four other individuals, some of whom were wearing ski masks, assisted in the pushing of the nets toward Hold Seven or Eight of the vessel,” the statement reads.
Allegedly, Durasevic was paid $50,000 by the Chief Officer in order to assist with bringing the drugs onboard.
A second crew member, Fnofaavae Tiasaga also admitted being part of the drug smuggling operation.
“Prior to departing on the voyage, the ship’s Electrician and the Chief Mate also approached Tiasaga and asked if he was willing to help again. According to Tiasaga, each of these four crewmembers coordinated individual loads of cocaine,” reads the complaint.
According to the evidence gathered, on several occasions during the transit route between Chile and Panama, a number of small boats approached the MSC Gayane to hand off large cocaine-filled packages.
MSC has issued a statement to the press saying that it “takes this matter very seriously and is grateful to the authorities for identifying any suspected abuse of its services.”
Image Courtesy of Marine Traffic