‘False charges’: Case against FedEx over drug trafficking dismissed

© Brian Snyder
San Francisco prosecutors dismissed all charges against shipping giant FedEx, which they previously alleged had knowingly trafficked drugs.

US District Court Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco granted the request to dismiss, but did not say why prosecutors were dropping the case. He said in court on Friday that FedEx was “factually innocent,” according to the Associated Press.

Prosecutors had claimed that the Memphis, Tennessee-based company began conspiring with two internet pharmacy organizations in the early 2000s to ship powerful sleep aids, sedatives, painkillers, and other drugs to customers who had not been physically examined by a doctor.

The prosecution’s case rested on the argument that FedEx knew it was trafficking drugs and that the drugs were illegal and headed for dealers and addicts, some of whom died. The company was charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, conspiracy to launder money, and other counts.

FedEx argued that it only shipped what it believed to be legal drugs from licensed pharmacies.

Judge Breyer explained that FedEx had repeatedly asked the Drug Enforcement Administration to give it the name of a customer that was shipping illegal drugs, so that it could stop working with them, but the agency was either unwilling or unable to do so.

“The dismissal is an act, in the court’s view, entirely consistent with the government’s overarching obligation to seek justice even at the expense of some embarrassment,” the judge said, according to a transcript of the hearing.

FedEx was implicated in 2014, but the trial only began this Monday, two years later. Company spokesman Patrick Fitzgerald said in a statement that the company has always been innocent, and the case should have never been brought against them.

“The government should take a very hard look at how they made the tremendously poor decision to file these charges,” he said, according to AP. “Many companies would not have had the courage or the resources to defend themselves against false charges.”

In a related case, rival UPS paid $40 million in 2013 to resolve similar allegations arising from a government crackdown on Internet pharmacies shipping drugs to customers without valid prescriptions.