U.S. officials seize 20 tonnes of cocaine from ship reportedly owned by JP Morgan

Ship Owned By JP Morgan (Photo Credit: CBS News)
Ship Owned By JP Morgan (Photo Credit: CBS News)

Federal authorities in Philadelphia, United States, seized nearly 20 tons of cocaine worth about $1 billion from a ship reportedly owned by JP Morgan’s asset management arm.

The development is said to be one of the largest drug busts in U.S. history.

Although the ship, named MSC Gayane, is operated by Switzerland-based Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), it was financed by a transportation strategy fund run by JP Morgan’s asset management arm.

A statement by the US Justice Department said six crew members aboard the ship have been arrested and charged with knowingly and intentionally conspiring to possess more than five kilograms of cocaine.

Details have also emerged showing that the ship is leased out to MSC.

According to online vessel tracking website MarineTraffic, the ship was flying under the flag of Liberia, a country in West Africa.

JP Morgan has declined comment on the development since details emerged it owned the ship Thursday.

The Liberian connection in the entire development remains unclear Friday morning. But an expert said the use of the West African nation’s flag does not necessarily implicate the country.

“A Liberian registered ship is not in itself a link with the West Africa drug economy,” Mark Shaw, the director of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime, told Business Insider. “Liberia serves as a flag state for much shipping.”

The development is not the first involving MSC.

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Earlier in the year, authorities in Philadelphia found 13 large black duffel bags with a combined 450 bricks of cocaine being shipped in one of the company’s shipping containers.

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