By Tim Devaney - 07/18/14 11:14 AM EDT
FedEx has been involved in an illegal drug ring for more than 15 years, federal prosecutors alleged late Thursday.
Federal prosecutors are charging FedEx with conspiring with online pharmacies to deliver prescription drugs to patients who did not have a prescription and had not been diagnosed by a doctor. The company is scheduled to appear in federal court in San Francisco on July 29.
Prosecutors said a joint 9-year investigation by the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Food and Drug Administration found that FedEx was aware its trucks were being used to deliver drugs as early as 2004, though the scheme started in 1998.
In some cases, FedEx drivers complained they were put in danger by customers who would stop the trucks on the road, or jump on to the trucks while they were driving, and demand their packages filled with illegal prescription drugs, according to the indictment.
But FedEx continued these deliveries in an effort to subvert authorities, the prosecutors alleged.
“The advent of Internet pharmacies allowed the cheap and easy distribution of massive amounts of illegal prescription drugs to every corner of the United States, while allowing perpetrators to conceal their identities through the anonymity the Internet provides,” U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said in a statement.
“This indictment highlights the importance of holding corporations that knowingly enable illegal activity responsible for their role in aiding criminal behavior.”
A year ago, the United Parcel Service avoided similar charges by agreeing to pay the government $40 million in a settlement.