Law enforcement is expected to give more information Thursday, after a search of containers on the ship is complete.
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".
The cocaine bails were transported by boats to the container ship while it was at sea, authorities said.
BREAKING: Chopper 3 is live over the Philadelphia Port where federal sources say up to 15,000 kilos of cocaine was seized during a drug bust.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania said the confiscated drugs weighed 16.5 tons, the largest drug seizure in the district's history.
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According to NBC10, the cocaine was found in seven containers aboard the MSC Gayane.
It is "one of the largest seizures in United States history", according to U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain. It is believed, that seized cocaine was destined for Europe, namely France and Netherlands. The haul had a street value of $38 million, the CBP said.
William McSwain, a US attorney for the EDP, tweeted that the amount of cocaine seized could kill millions of people. But the identity of the crew members was not immediately released.
Television footage of the seized ship in Philadelphia showed its name as MSC Gayane. It is considered the largest drug bust ever in the area. The investigation is ongoing. His office estimated the value of the cocaine seized at more than US$1 billion.
Fentanyl is "50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine", and is responsible for thousands of overdose deaths each year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.