Thu | Aug 24, 2017

Prosecutors drop drug trafficking case against FedEx

Published:Sunday | June 19, 2016 | 6:00 AM
In this January 5, 2016 photo, a FedEx truck drives past the skyline in San Francisco.

A criminal trial alleging that FedEx knowingly delivered illegal prescription drugs to dealers and addicts ended suddenly on Friday when prosecutors moved to dismiss all charges against the shipping giant.

US District Court Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco granted the request in a two-page order that did not indicate why prosecutors had decided to drop the case. The trial began on Monday.

The US Attorney's Office confirmed in a statement that it had asked Breyer to dismiss the indictment but also did not say why. The office would have no additional comment, spokesman Abraham Simmons said.

FedEx spokesman Patrick Fitzgerald said in a statement that the company has always been innocent and the case should never have been brought.

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

FedEx attorneys had said before the trial that two Drug Enforcement Administration officials who regularly talked to the company were willing to testify that they never told FedEx to stop shipping for any online pharmacies.

The trial - nearly two years in the making - was unusual in part because of the government's decision to bring drug charges against a package delivery company.

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

The crux of the government's case was that FedEx knew the drugs were illegal and headed for dealers and addicts, some of whom died, but delivered them anyway.

FedEx said it only shipped what it believed were legal drugs from licensed pharmacies.

In her opening statement, FedEx attorney Cristina Arguedas said the company helped investigators crack down on the two pharmacies that prosecutors say were involved in the scheme and that FedEx was never told by the DEA not to ship for a customer.

FedEx had been charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, conspiracy to launder money and other counts.

- AP