US: MSC Gayane Subject to Possible Forfeiture

The Neopanamax containership MSC Gayane is “subject to a possible forfeiture” after U.S. authorities found almost 20-tons of cocaine aboard the ship on June 17.

Upon application from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the warrant for the seizure of the 2018-built vessel was issued.

The country’s Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Area Port of Philadelphia seized the MSC Gayane on July 4. The ship is currently under the custody of Customs and Border Protection’s and shall remain so until further legal proceedings or order of the court, according to William McSwain, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

“A seizure of a vessel this massive is complicated and unprecedented – but it is appropriate because the circumstances here are also unprecedented,” McSwain said.

On June 17, the CBP and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) led multi-agency team detected anomalies in seven shipping containers and extracted 39,525 pounds of cocaine from containers aboard the ship at the Packer Marine Terminal in Philadelphia.

The cocaine has a street value of about USD 1.3 billion.

According to earlier reports, the ship’s crewmembers have been arrested and charged, and the investigation is ongoing.