The “MSC Gayane”, owned by J.P. Morgan Asset Management and chartered to Mediterranean Shipping Company, was discovered with the illegal shipment in Philadelphia on June 17.
What We Know:
- The ship was formally seized July 9. The operator of the container ship posted a $50 million bond (including $10 million in cash) but still plans to consider seeking confiscation of the ship.
- U.S. Attorney William McSwain wrote in a Twitter post about the case that his “office secured $10 million in cash and a $40 million surety bond from the owner…in exchange for its temporary release pending a final resolution in this case…”
- Even though J.P. Morgan wants the ship back in their ownership, if the $90 million ship’s crew is found to be linked with the cocaine haul, it will remain in custody.
- The ship left from the Philadelphia port that Saturday and was heading to Rotterdam for a return to commercial service. At the time of the raid, the ship was making its only US stop after starting its journey in Chile and stopping in Peru, Panama and the Bahamas then heading to Europe.
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents raided the ship June 17 and found cocaine worth $1.3 billion stuffed in multiple containers. So far, eight crew members have been charged in connection with the crime and are still in custody.
- A person involved in the case stated to the Wall Street Journal that “MSC has arranged the payments, and the ship, plus 16 crew members that had not been charged, were let go…The federal government is still building a forfeiture case, but the $50 million was deemed enough to let the Gayane go for now.”
- This is now the second ship raided this year in Philadelphia for drug movement, with MSC Carlotta being raided for 1.6 tons of cocaine in February and the MSC Desiree being raided for 1,200 pounds of cocaine in March.
- MSC, (now the second-largest container shipping line in the world when it comes to vessel capacity) is owned by one of the world’s richest couples, Gianluigi and Rafaela Aponte. They also control MSC Cruises, the fourth-largest cruise company in the world by number of passengers. Worth an estimated $11.1 billion dollars as a couple, the fact that the company’s busts are tied to them is definitely suspicious.