U.S. authorities on Tuesday seized more than $1 billion US worth of cocaine from a ship at a Philadelphia port, calling it one of the largest drug busts in American history.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Philadelphia announced the massive bust on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, saying law enforcement agents seized about 15 metric tonnes of cocaine from a large ship at the Packer Marine Terminal. Members of the crew were arrested and face federal charges.

“This amount of cocaine could kill millions — MILLIONS — of people,” U.S. Attorney William McSwain said in a separate tweet.

The drug seizure is the latest in a series of large cocaine busts along the East Coast. In a March bust in Philadelphia, drug dogs sniffed out 538 kilograms of cocaine worth about $38 million US — at that time the city’s largest seizure of the drug in more than two decades.

In February, customs agents seized 1,451 kilograms at the Port of New York and New Jersey with a street value estimated at $77 million US. That was the largest cocaine bust at the ports since 1994.

Television footage of the seized ship in Philadelphia showed its name as MSC Gayane. Online ship trackers said it sails under the flag of Liberia and arrived in Philadelphia after 5 a.m. Monday. According to VesselFinder.com, in the past month, the ship has docked in Freeport, Bahamas; Cristobal, Panama; Callao, Peru; and Buenoventura, Colomia. 

The MSC Gayane container ship flies under the flag of Liberia. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)