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U.S. authorities have seized over $1 billion worth of cocaine — that's 16.5 tons — from a ship at a Philadelphia port Tuesday, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Why it matters: There have been a number of recent, sizable cocaine catches along the East Coast. According to a tweet from the U.S. Attorney's office, this was "the largest drug seizure in the history of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania."

U.S. Attorney Williams McSwain, who heads the district, tweeted: "This is one of the largest drug seizures in United States history. This amount of cocaine could kill millions – MILLIONS – of people. "

State of play: A local CBS affiliate reported that agents went aboard the vessel, discovered and inspected the container in question and removed it. It has since been relocated an undisclosed federal facility.

What's next: According to authorities, the ship's crew has been arrested and issued charges. It remains unclear if more drugs were on the scene.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
52 mins ago - Economy & Business

Trump blocks banks from limiting loans to gun and oil companies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Big banks are no longer allowed to reject business loan applicants because of the industry in which they operate, according to a new rule finalized on Thursday by the Trump administration.

Why it matters: Wall Street has curtailed its exposure to industries like guns, oil and private prisons, driven by both public and shareholder pressures. This new rule could reverse that trend.

Former FDA commissioner: "Reliable drug supply is absolutely critical"

Axios' Caitlin Owens and former FDA commissioner Mark McClellan. Photo courtesy of Axios Events

Having a reliable supply of pharmaceutical drugs throughout America will be "absolutely critical" to boosting affordability in health care during the Biden administration, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Mark McClellan said at a virtual Axios Event on Friday.

The big picture: McClellan, who served under President George W. Bush, says drugs having limited supply and limited competition leads to elevated pricing. He considers drug supply to be a national security and public health issue.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
4 hours ago - Economy & Business

Americans are still spending money

Source: Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans spent more money at stores and restaurants in 2020 than they did in 2019 — even in the face of a devastating global pandemic that shut down broad sectors of the economy.

Why it matters: The monthly retail sales report this morning came in well below expectations, and showed consumer spending falling on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Total expenditures were still higher in December 2020 than they were a year previously, however.