If the price of cocaine starts to climb on America’s Eastern seaboard this summer, we’ve got a pretty good idea what’s causing the inflation.
According to a slew of reports from local and national news outlets, a massive drug bust at the Port of Philadelphia turned up approximately 16.5 tons of cocaine, an amount that authorities say would have fetched over $1 billion on the black market. During a press conference on Friday, June 21st, authorities said it’s “the largest cocaine haul in the history of US Customs,” according to the Associated Press.
In a tweet announcing the seizure, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennslyvania William McSwain also called the law enforcement effort “one of the largest drug seizures in US history,” and insisted that the narcotics could have been deadly had they made it past border security.
“This amount of cocaine could kill millions — MILLIONS — of people,” McSwain wrote. “My Office is committed to keeping our borders secure and streets safe from deadly narcotics.”
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 nose candy was found packaged in large bails on the intercontinental freighter the MSC Gayane, as it docked at the Packer Marine Terminal in South Philly. A member of the ship’s crew who fessed up to a role in the international smuggling operation told federal authorities that the cocaine was loaded onto the cargo vessel off the coast of Peru.
Now in federal custody and awaiting charges, crew member Ivan Durasevic said in a sworn affidavit that the cocaine cruise started in Peru. On its way to Philadelphia, the MSC Gayane also stopped in Colombia. Had the freighter made it out of the US, the boat was scheduled to continue on to the Netherlands.
“According to Durasevic, 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,” sworn court documents detail. “Durasevic and approximately four other individuals, some of whom were wearing ski masks, assisted in the pushing of the nets towards Hold Seven or Eight of the vessel. The nets contained blue or black bags with handles. Two or three crew members assisted in loading the cocaine into containers. The whole process took approximately 30 to 40 minutes.”
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Across the northern United States, narcotics officials are now predicting that the Philadelphia bust could have a wide ripple effect on the cocaine supply for the entire area. In upstate New York, local authorities predict that a price hike will likely follow shortly.
“With this amount of drugs being taken off the street, we feel that it’s probably going to raise the prices for drugs here locally because there won’t be as many drugs to go around for the people looking for them,” Detective Lieutenant Joe Donoghue with the Watertown Police Department told local news channel WWNY.
During the Friday press conference, the US Customs and Border Protection officials said the bust has now led to six arrests. We will continue to post updates on this story as more news breaks.
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