US Customs Border Protection Washington DC
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MSC has sort to ease the fears of shippers with cargo aboard a vessel arrested by US authorities this week.

The MSC Gayane was impounded by US Customs on 17 June after a raid at the port of Philadelphia uncovered the largest amount of cocaine they ever found.

On Monday, US Customs and Border Protection revealed it had obtained a warrant to arrest the ship and it would remain in the court’s custody.

In a statement on its website, MSC said “aside from a small number of containers”, all cargo aboard the Gayane had been transhipped to other vessels and on to their final destinations.

It advised: “Your local MSC representative will inform you proactively by sending you notices of arrival with the updated ETA of your cargo. Please feel free to contact your local MSC office for more information.”

It said it regretted any delay and thanked customers for their patience, adding: “Please understand, we must follow the instructions of the authorities when such serious abuses of our services are being investigated.”

A total of 16.5 tonnes of cocaine, with a street value of $1bn was found on board the vessel – and it was not the first drug haul found on an MSC ship. In March, a raid at Philadelphia on the MSC Desiree uncovered $38m worth of cocaine.

Now the carrier has had its Customs Trade Partnership certification suspended. It told customers: “You may have seen that MSC’s C-TPAT certification was temporarily suspended. We are actively seeking to assure the authorities that our certification can be reinstated as soon as possible.

“Notwithstanding this temporary status, MSC continues to comply with all the requirements of the C-TPAT programme and security criteria for ocean carriers.”

It noted that this included, “but is not limited to”, customer screening, maintaining vessel and container security and the vetting of employees and partners.

It added that the NWC-US-SAWC service, on which the MSC Gayane was deployed, was “functioning normally” with no other services affected by the issue.

“Drug trafficking is a serious issue which impacts the entire shipping and logistics sector,” it said. “MSC remains grateful to officials for their proactive work and has offered its continued support, building on a longstanding track record of good cooperation with authorities.”

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