This incident has been described as the largest cocaine haul in our nation’s history, an alarming claim for residents of the City of Brotherly Love.
In total, the cargo ship smuggling cocaine is estimated to have held $1.3 billion worth of the illegal drug.1 Originally, only the drugs were seized, but after obtaining a warrant, the United States Customs and Border Protection agency has now taken custody of the cargo ship itself.
The cargo ship is the MSC Gayane and is over 1,000 feet long. It is owned by JPMorgan Chase, but the ship is run by the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), a Swiss-based bank. The ship was en route to Northern Europe before being seized. The rest of the cargo has been sent to its destination.
Whether MSC is to blame for the cocaine is up for debate. Six crew members from the MSC Gayane have been charged for their alleged part, but Federal Authorities have not accused the company as a whole of anything yet, but this is not the first time that this happened. In the past year, two other MSC cargo ships have been found to be carrying cocaine as well. When this most recent incident arose, MSC said, “unfortunately, shipping and logistics companies are, from time to time, affected by trafficking problems. MSC has a longstanding history of cooperating with U.S. federal law enforcement agencies to help disrupt illegal narcotics trafficking.”
This cargo ship smuggling cocaine is just one example of how drugs can get into this country. Although this was an unusual occurrence because of the substantial amount, drugs are, unfortunately, still being brought into the country all the time from various parts of the world.
As providers of cocaine addiction treatment in Philadelphia, we see the devastating effects that cocaine and other drugs can have on our patients. In Philadelphia, cocaine accounted for 26.9% of city’s total drug reports in 2015. This was the highest percentage out of all the drugs listed, followed by cannabis in second.2 Although a lot of attention is given to the opioid epidemic, clearly, cocaine is a major problem in our city and drug and alcohol treatment in Philadelphia is not enough. Stopping drugs at the source in another important component.