Federal authorities arrested and charged two of the ship's crewmembers Ivan Durasevic and Fonofaavae Tiasaga.
Most of the world's cocaine is consumed in the US and the US State Department warned in 2017 of "troubling signs" that the drug's use and availability were "on the rise for the first time in almost a decade".
In this representational image, bags containing drugs are pictured as the Peruvian Interior Ministry burns more than seven tons of seized drugs, mostly cocaine, at a police facility in Ate, on the outskirts of Lima, Oct. 11, 2016.
Over 16.5 tons of cocaine were seized from a ship in the port of the American city of Philadelphia.
One of the largest cocaine busts in United States history happened Tuesday in Philadelphia.
The historic bust - the largest in the history of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania - comes amid a series of large seizures of the drug in the Northeast, including a record seizure of $18 million worth of the drug in March.
It is unclear whether the drugs seized on Tuesday were intended for the USA or Europe, where the ship was ultimately bound. "This quantity of cocaine might per chance abolish millions - MILLIONS - of people". The crew of the vessel is detained, they now face charges.
Investigators believe there is still a significant amount of cocaine remaining on the ship. The street value of the haul is estimated at $1 billion.
Federal authorities seized 15,000 kilos of cocaine, worth as well-known as $750 million, at a Philadelphia shipping port, officers said on Tuesday.
Container ship MSC GAYANE, IMO 9770763, dwt 120500, capacity 11568 TEU, flag Liberia, manager MSC.
The investigation into the incident is ongoing.
The risky combination of cocaine with the powerful opioid fentanyl into a modern-day speedball is also creating soaring new demand. Prosecutors say the 33,000 pounds of coke - or 15,000 kilos - has an estimated street value of over $1 billion, making it one of the largest drug seizures in USA history.
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