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June 19, 2019

Two from ship's crew charged in $1 billion cocaine bust at Port of Philadelphia

As the search of the MSC Gayane continues, officials say there could another 30 tons of cocaine onboard

Investigation Drug Bust
Two crew members charged in cocaine bust in Philadelphia NOAA/Public Domain

Two crew members face federal charges after authorities seized 33,000 pounds of cocaine on a container ship at the Port of Philadelphia on Tuesday - the largest in city history.

Two container ship crew members face federal charges after authorities seized 33,000 pounds of cocaine from the vessel at the Port of Philadelphia on Tuesday. It was the largest drug bust in city history and as the investigation continues, it could get even bigger.

Ivan Durasevic, second mate on MSC Gayane, and another crew member, Fonofaavae Tiasage, are charged with conspiracy to possess cocaine aboard a ship, according to the Associated Press.

And authorities continue to search on the cargo ship on Wednesday. CBS News reported that officials said there might be another 30 tons of cocaine – or 60,000 pounds – stashed onboard the vessel. 

MORE: Massive cocaine bust nets historic haul from ship at Port of Philadelphia

Agents raided the MSC Gayane, a Swiss-owned company ship, while it was docked at the Port of Philadelphia. Court documents show the raid began on Monday. On Tuesday, agents sized about 33,000 pounds of cocaine, or about 16.5 tons. It reportedly is worth between $525 million to more than $1 billion, according to Patrick Trainor, a spokesperson for Drug Enforcement Administration in Philadelphia.

Records show the ship's previous ports of call were the Bahamas on June 13, Panama on June 9, Peru on May 24, and Colombia on May 19, the Associated Press reported.

The crew members allegedly admitted to helping load cocaine onto the vessel while it was at sea off the west coast of South America, according to the affidavit. 14 boats approached container ship on two separate occasions, authorities said. 

MSC Mediterranean Shipping Co. released a statement on Tuesday that it is committed to working with law enforcement. The company added that they "take this matter very seriously" and are "grateful to the authorities for identifying any suspected abuse of its services."

It is the largest drug bust in Philadelphia history, and the third largest drug bust in U.S. history, CBS News reported. In March, authorities uncovered 1,185 pounds of cocaine, which was the fourth largest drug bust in city history

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