Federal authorities have made what they called one of the largest cocaine busts in US history: 16 tons of the drug, worth more than $1 billion. The haul was seized Tuesday from a cargo ship, the MSC Gayane, at the Port of Philadelphia, the Inquirer reported. “This amount of cocaine could kill millions—MILLIONS—of people,” US Attorney William McSwain tweeted. Two crew members were charged with breaking federal maritime drug trafficking laws. According to court filings, the men helped haul dozens of bales of cocaine aboard from at least 14 smaller boats that approached the Gayane while going back and forth to Peru. Shipping records showed the ship arrived in port early Monday morning.
One of the crew members said he was paid $50,000 to participate in the scheme, court filings show, per NBC Philadelphia. The Gayane’s recent stops included Panama, the Bahamas, and Colombia, according to shipping records. MSC, which owns 54 cargo ships, is headquartered in Europe, with operations in several US cities. In March, $77 million in cocaine was seized at the Port of New York and New Jersey, which officials at the time said was the largest drug bust this century at that port. (Read more drug bust stories.)