The seizure came one day after nearly 20 tons of cocaine with an estimated street value of $1.3 billion were seized at the Port of Philadelphia.
Federal and local authorities seized 333 pounds of cocaine from inside a container shipping container at the Port of Baltimore during a multiagency examination on June 18, one day after the largest cocaine seizure in the history of Customs and Border Protection in Philadelphia.
CBP officers, Homeland Security Investigations agents and state and locate partners participating in HSI’s Border Enforcement Security Task Force searched a container of beach chairs that arrived from China through Panama. Authorities found four bags inside the container that contained a combined 125 bricks of cocaine (pictured above) with a street value of about $10 million, CBP announced Tuesday.
“This container, in particular, sat in the Port of Panama for over a week, big reason for a high narcotics target value for us as well as the goods made in China for intellectual property rights violations — that targeting based off of those two reasons as well as intelligence, we pulled it in,” Patricia Scull, assistant port director of tactical operations, told WBAL-TV.
The beach chairs were destined to an address in Maryland. No arrests have been made and Homeland Security Investigations special agents continue to investigate, CBP said.
The cocaine seizure was CBP’s largest at the Port of Baltimore.
There was no word if the Baltimore seizure was linked to the previous day’s historic seizure in Philadelphia. The final weight of the cocaine seized from the MSC Gayane is 39,525 pounds and has a street value of nearly $1.3 billion, CBP announced Wednesday. CBP also seized $56,330 found on the ship “believed to be proceeds from illegal activity,” it said last week.
CBP, HIS and U.S. Coast Guard authorities boarded the MSC Gayane the night of June 16 and detected anomalies while examining seven containers. The boarding team escorted the ship to the Port of Philadelphia’s Packer Marine Terminal, where the containers were unloaded the afternoon of June 17 and CBP confirmed the presence of anomalies.
Six crew members — Ivan Durasevic, Nenad Ilic, Alexander Kavaja, Bosco Markovic, Laauli Pulu and Fonofaavae Tiasaga — were all arrested on one federal count of knowingly and intentionally conspiring with each other and with others to possess more than 5 kilograms of cocaine on board a vessel subject to U.S. jurisdiction and each faces “a possible sentence of life in prison,” said Bill McSwain, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Philadelphia, Friday during a press conference. The six remain behind bars after facing a federal judge on Monday, CBS Philly reported.
“The MSC Gayane remains in Philadelphia while the multiagency team continues to inspect containers and vessel spaces for additional cocaine,” CBP spokesperson Stephen Sapp told American Shipper Thursday via email. “I do not have a timeline when that inspection will conclude.”
Mediterranean Shipping Company said last week in a customer advisory that CBP temporarily has suspended the container shipping company’s Customs Trade Partnership (C-TPAT) certification following the seizure from the MSC Gayane, which was the second time this year an MSC containership had been involved in a drug bust in Philadelphia.
In March, about 1,185 pounds of cocaine with a street value of approximately $38 million was located inside a container offloaded from the MSC Desiree, which was at the time CBP’s fourth-largest cocaine seizure at the Area Port of Philadelphia. Authorities discovered 12 large duffel bags containing a combined 450 bricks of cocaine.
Federal and state law enforcement also made the second-largest cocaine seizure at the Port of New York and New Jersey in 25 years in February, finding 3,200 pounds of the drug with an estimated street value of $77 million. The container, which originated in Buenaventura, Colombia, and was manifested as containing dry fruit, arrived in Newark aboard the MSC Carlotta, according to The New York Times.