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US Customs Seized JP Morgan Chase Ship Carrying $1Billion Of Cocaine (#GotBitcoin?)

U.S. Seizes MSC Container Ship After Record Drug Bust. US Customs Seized JP Morgan Chase Ship Carrying $1Billion Of Cocaine (#GotBitcoin?)

US Customs Seized JP Morgan Chase Ship Carrying $1Billion Of Cocaine (#GotBitcoin?)

 

Read This Useful Guide To How Long Cocaine Stays In The Body By Ollie Clark

MSC Gayane could be taken over by authorities after 20 tons of cocaine were found in containers Philadelphia port.

U.S. authorities have seized a large container ship operated by Switzerland-based Mediterranean Shipping Co., three weeks after customs authorities found 20 tons of cocaine on the vessel.

The MSC Gayane, which is owned by J.P. Morgan Asset Management and chartered to MSC, the world’s second-biggest container ship operator by capacity, is “subject to possible forfeiture,” U.S. Attorney William McSwain said in a statement.

Built in 2018, the ship has capacity for around 10,000 containers and is worth about $90 million. It is anchored at the Delaware River near the Philadelphia port and is expected to stay there for an extended period, according to people involved in the matter.

”A seizure of a vessel this massive is complicated and unprecedented—but it is appropriate because the circumstances here are also unprecedented,” Mr. McSwain said. “When a vessel brings such an outrageous amount of deadly drugs into Philadelphia waters, my office will pursue the most severe consequences possible against all involved parties in order to protect our district—and our country.”

The Gayane was raided on June 17 by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents who found about 20 tons of cocaine with a street value of $1.3 billion stashed in several containers. The ship had sailed from Freeport in the Bahamas and before that it called in Panama and Peru after starting its voyage in Chile. It was due to sail on to Europe after the U.S. stop.

“MSC remains grateful to the government officials in the U.S. for their proactive work and has offered its continued support, building on a longstanding track record of good cooperation with the authorities,” an MSC spokesman said in a statement. “MSC is assisting and cooperating with the authorities as required and the company is not the target of any investigation.”

Eight crew members from Serbia and Samoa were arrested and several have been charged in the case, the people involved said. They said the ship’s second officer and another crew member were charged with helping bring the cocaine aboard the vessel.

The Gayane was the second MSC ship raided in Philadelphia this year for drug movement. In March, federal agents discovered nearly 1,200 pounds of cocaine onboard the MSC Desiree, a similar size vessel to the Gayane.

US Customs Seized JP Morgan Chase Ship Carrying $1Billion Of Cocaine (#GotBitcoin?)

Customs agents also seized 1.6 tons of cocaine on another MSC vessel, the MSC Carlotta, as it entered the Port of Newark, N.J., in February, authorities said.

After the two incidents, the customs agency has temporarily suspended MSC’s Customs-Trade Partnership certification, which means the liner is no longer regarded “low risk” and its cargo is subject to more scrutiny..

MSC said its shipping customers can expect minimal disruption from the suspension and cargo from the Gayane has been transferred to other vessels and moved to end users.

Ship executives, maritime lawyers and brokers said the case is unprecedented for the scale and age of the vessel.

“Historically, ships involved in criminal activity are older and beaten up,” said Basil Karatzas, chief executive of New-York-based Karatzas Marine Advisors & Co. “It is strange that such a modern and expensive vessel is involved in such a blatantly criminal case, like moving 20 tons of cocaine.”

Global maritime regulation doesn’t require ocean carriers to check the contents of all containers they move as this would lead to long delays across supply chains.

The world’s second-largest container shipping company faces a major loss as a result of one of the biggest drug hauls ever at a maritime port. U.S. authorities are considering whether to seek the forfeiture of the Mediterranean Shipping Co. vessel seized at the Port of Philadelphia, the WSJ Logistics Report’s Costas Paris writes.

The MSC Gayane is being held following last month’s seizure of some 20 tons of cocaine with a street value of $1.3 billion. Remaining containers have been transferred to other vessels for delivery to customers. With capacity for about 10,000 shipping containers and a value of about $90 million, the Gayane would mark a significant loss for MSC and ship owner J.P. Morgan Asset Management. Drug seizures on cargo vessels aren’t exactly rare—two other MSC ships were found with illicit shipments in the U.S. earlier this year but the ships moved on. Prosecutors are treating this case differently.

US Customs Seized JP Morgan Chase Ship Carrying $1Billion Of Cocaine (#GotBitcoin?)

Arresting A Ship

* Federal prosecutors in Philadelphia have seized a container ship operated by the Mediterranean Shipping Co. and owned by JPMorgan Asset Management.

* That came weeks after authorities found more than $1 billion worth of cocaine on the vessel in what was one of the largest drug busts in American history.

* At least half a dozen crew members have been arrested, according to Homeland Security Investigations, and the investigation is ongoing.

Federal prosecutors in Philadelphia have seized a container ship operated by the Mediterranean Shipping Co., weeks after authorities found more than $1 billion worth of cocaine on the vessel in what was one of the largest drug busts in American history.

US Customs and Border Protection seized the ship on July 4, a statement out Monday said. The ship is owned by client assets in a maritime strategy offered by JPMorgan Asset Management, according to a person familiar with the matter. It is operated by the Switzerland-based MSC.

On June 17, border agents found 39,525 pounds of cocaine stashed in several containers on the MSC Gayane at the Philadelphia seaport. The street value of the drugs was estimated at about $1.3 billion, making it the largest cocaine seizure by the agency.

“A seizure of a vessel this massive is complicated and unprecedented — but it is appropriate because the circumstances here are also unprecedented,” US Attorney William McSwain said. “We found nearly 20 tons of cocaine hidden on this ship.”

At least half a dozen crew members have been arrested, according to Homeland Security Investigations, and the investigation is ongoing. Charges included conspiracy to possess cocaine aboard a ship.

The Gayane sailed under the flag of Liberia and had previously traveled through the Bahamas and several South American countries, according to an online ship tracker.

JPMorgan declined to comment. Mediterranean Shipping Co. did not immediately respond to an email inquiry. US Customs Seized JP, US Customs Seized JP, US Customs Seized JP,

Updated: 7-14-2019

U.S. Releases Container Ship Found With 20 Tons of Cocaine

Authorities say they are still weighing forfeiture proceedings against the MSC Gayane after a combined $50 million in cash and a surety bond were posted.

U.S. authorities have released a container ship that was seized with 20 tons of cocaine in Philadelphia after the operator posted a $50 million bond, including $10 million in cash, but said they still plan to consider seeking forfeiture of the vessel.

The release of the MSC Gayane, owned by J.P. Morgan Asset Management and chartered to Mediterranean Shipping Co., means the ship can resume commercial operations after being held at the Port of Philadelphia for nearly a month.

“My office secured $10 million in cash and a $40 million surety bond from the owner and operator of the vessel in exchange for its temporary release pending a final resolution in this case,” U.S. Attorney William McSwain wrote in a post on Twitter.

The ship, which is worth around $90 million, is still subject to possible forfeiture if the probe links senior crew members with the cocaine haul, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Gayane was raided on June 17 by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, who found cocaine that authorities said had a street value of $1.3 billion stuffed in several containers. The ship was formally seized on July 9. Eight crew members have been charged in connection with the raid and remain in custody.

“MSC has arranged the payments, and the ship, plus 16 crew that had not been charged, were let go,” a person involved in the matter said. “The federal government is still building a forfeiture case, but the $50 million was deemed enough to let the Gayane go for now.”

The ship departed the Philadelphia port Saturday and was on its way to Rotterdam for a return to commercial service. A spokesman for MSC said the company continues to cooperate with U.S. authorities.

The ship was making its only stop in the U.S. at the time of the raid after starting its journey in Chile and stopping in Peru, Panama and the Bahamas on its way to Europe.

The Gayane was the second MSC ship raided in Philadelphia this year for drug movement. In March, federal agents discovered nearly 1,200 pounds of cocaine onboard the MSC Desiree, a similar-size vessel to the Gayane

Customs agents also seized 1.6 tons of cocaine on another MSC vessel, the MSC Carlotta, as it entered the Port of Newark, N.J., in February, authorities said.

Global maritime regulation doesn’t require ocean carriers to check the contents of all containers they move as this would lead to long delays across supply chains.

Updated: 7-25-2019

Inside Shipping’s Record Cocaine Bust On JP Morgan Chase Ship

An audacious effort to use a 9,400-mile commercial trade lane as an international drug smuggling corridor came apart in a nighttime raid on a ship at sea.

On a cloudy evening on June 16, the MSC Gayane was making its way into the Delaware Bay for a stopover at the Port of Philadelphia when it was greeted by boats carrying about a dozen armed U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other federal agents.

In the waters near the southern tip of New Jersey, agents climbed a rope ladder onto the massive container ship and checked first to see if locks on the steel containers that hold millions of dollars worth of goods were intact.

“The seals on some boxes didn’t look right,” a person with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Customs officers escorted the 1,031-foot-long ship, part of a Mediterranean Shipping Co. fleet that handles a significant share of the world’s seaborne trade, to the port in South Philadelphia, and early the next morning seven of the boxes were X-rayed and opened to reveal “bales and bales of cocaine,” according to U.S. officials.

It took about a week to weigh and document the bricks. In all, they weighed 39,525 pounds—nearly 20 tons.

The haul, with an estimated street value of $1.3 billion, was the largest drug seizure in the 230-year history of the U.S. Customs agency and one of the biggest ever by American authorities.

The find sent shock waves through the shipping world. It hit operations at one of the world’s largest ship operators, rattled an arm of investment bank JPMorgan Chase & Co. that owns the ship and raised questions about the security behind a business that on any given day has millions of containers moving between the world’s trading nations.

It was the result of what shipping executives say is a growing trend in drug transport.

Smugglers who have long used small planes, speed boats, trucks and other transport have grown bolder about stuffing large amounts of narcotics into commercial distribution shipping networks, trusting that illicit shipments won’t raise alarms in the enormous stream of goods moving between countries.

“Many ships go unchecked, and in others smugglers bring along container seals that look very close to the original ones,” said an executive at a container ship operator that competes with MSC.

The Gayane case is under seal, but interviews with people familiar with the investigation and an affidavit by a federal agent provide the first detailed account of an audacious attempt to smuggle more than a billion dollars worth of cocaine and how U.S. authorities intercepted it.

According to an affidavit prepared by a DHS special agent, parts of which were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, the MSC Gayane was approached twice by more than 10 boats in total while it was sailing at night in the Pacific Ocean between Chile, Peru and Panama.

The ship’s crane was used to bring the drugs onboard, and two crew members stuffed the bales into containers holding other cargo, according to the affidavit.

One crew member “operated the crane to bring on numerous bales of cocaine that were wrapped in netting. Along with bales of cocaine were replacement seals, which would be utilized on the containers in which the cocaine was concealed,” the affidavit said.

The two crew members were to be paid $50,000 each, according to the affidavit.

After the clandestine loading, the Gayane continued on a route that took it through the Panama Canal and up the U.S. Coast, similar to paths followed earlier this year by two MSC container ships that were also found to be carrying cocaine.

In February, customs agents seized 1.6 tons of cocaine on the MSC Carlotta at Port Newark in New Jersey. Then in March, authorities found 1,200 pounds of cocaine aboard the MSC Desiree at the Port of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia was the MSC Gayane’s only planned stop before the ship was due to head across the Atlantic Ocean for planned calls in Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Antwerp, Belgium; and Le Havre, France. Authorities believe European buyers were ready to take in the cocaine and distribute it across the continent.

Shipping executives say the ship’s role in one of the few South American services connecting to Europe likely drew the interest of smugglers. The route and the earlier busts raised alarms for law enforcement authorities.

Investigators said they cannot connect the MSC Gayane shipment with the two previous cases involving the company’s ships “but cocaine lords are increasingly using sea transport to bring their product to western markets.”

“There are more drug seizures now on ships than in the past,” one drug-enforcement official said. “We are investigating whether the MSC ships are particularly targeted, but any vessel coming in from South America, can raise a red flag.”

Eight crew members have been charged and are being held in the U.S.. Another 16, including the captain, were allowed to leave Philadelphia this month.

MSC, the world’s second-biggest container ship operator by capacity, faces big losses after paying $50 million in cash and bond to release the vessel after it was held for nearly a month.

The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Philadelphia says it plans to seek permanent forfeiture of the ship, which is less than two years old and worth an estimated $90 million.

The Gayane sailed recently to Rotterdam, where MSC plans to return it to commercial service. The ship must be returned to the U.S. within three months if a court backs the forfeiture case.

But the seizure has dealt a blow to the company’s reputation, and U.S. authorities have temporarily removed the carrier from a list of trusted operators that can move goods through security checks more quickly.

MSC, which also runs a cruise line, has its corporate base in Geneva, Switzerland. It is closely held by the family of Gianluigi Aponte, an Italian billionaire with a net worth of around $9 billion. Mr. Aponte is one of the biggest players in Europe’s maritime industry, with more than 400 ships under his company’s control.

The company is trying to reassure its shipping customers that operations are running smoothly while it reinforces security on its vessels.

“Shippers are asking questions about South American cargo on MSC ships,” said senior broker in The Netherlands. “Three cocaine busts in such a short period are too many. They don’t want their cargo to be delayed by extra security checks on MSC vessels.”

An MSC spokesman said the company isn’t the target of any investigation. The company said it chooses its crews from a pool of seafarers that have been vetted by U.S. authorities and given special visas.

Following the bust, the carrier said it is adding security guards on ships sailing from the western coast of South America, adding closed-circuit cameras on its vessels and implementing cabin checks on board to ensure workers don’t have contraband container seals or other evidence of drug smuggling.

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