June 18, 2019
Multiple federal agencies are in the process a major cocaine bust at the Port of Philadelphia on Tuesday afternoon, authorities confirmed.
The origin of the vessel was not immediately available, pending further investigation.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania drug seizure as historic, estimating a whopping 16.5 tons were discovered with a street value of over $1 million.
*BREAKING NEWS* Federal authorities have seized approximately 16.5 TONS of cocaine from a large ship at the Packer Marine Terminal in Philadelphia. This is the largest drug seizure in the history of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. @ICEgov @CBPMidAtlantic @PhillyPolice @USCG— U.S. Attorney EDPA (@USAO_EDPA) June 18, 2019
This is one of the largest drug seizures in United States history. This amount of cocaine could kill millions – MILLIONS – of people. My Office is committed to keeping our borders secure and streets safe from deadly narcotics. https://t.co/nWPfgpGqYa— US Attorney William M. McSwain (@USAttyMcSwain) June 18, 2019
The origin of the vessel was not immediately available, pending further investigation. Members of the ship's crew have been arrested and federally charged, federal authorities said.
The seizure marks the second major cocaine bust at the Philadelphia port this year, following a March bust that netted 1,185 pounds of the narcotic from the MSC Desiree, a ship that had arrived from Colombia on its way to Europe. The value of the haul was estimated at $38 million.
The bust in March was the fourth-largest ever at the Port of Philadelphia and the largest since a 1,945-pound haul of cocaine was seized in May 1998.
In January 2018, federal authorities intercepted 709 pounds of cocaine entering the Port of Philadelphia. At the time, that had been the largest cocaine bust in Philadelphia since 2007, when officials seized 864 pounds concealed in a shipping container from the Dominican Republic.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey praised law enforcement officials for their work in Tuesday's bust and criticized President Donald Trump for diverting resources away from ports.
"This seizure is further evidence that a border wall will not stop drugs from ‘pouring into the country’ as the president has previously claimed, and points to the vulnerability the administration has created by reassigning border protection officers from already understaffed Ports to the southern border," Casey said in a statement.
More information on Tuesday's discovery is expected to be available later in the afternoon.
Check back for updates on this developing story.