The Feds blink: FedEx is exonerated of illegal drug distribution

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Case falls apart as a 'skeptical' judge calls the company 'factually innocent'

A years-in-the-making federal prosecution against FedEx for the controlled-substances shipments that flowed through its network in the early 2000s collapsed on Friday, June 17, as federal prosecutors filed a request to dismiss all charges. An AP report of the development, noting that this was a non-jury trial, said that the judge called FedEx “factually innocent,” according to trial transcripts.

The case opened on Monday, June 13; the original charges were made in 2014, and recounted incidents going back to the early 2000s of shipments being made to suspect online pharmacies—even to individual drug users. FedEx aggressively maintained its innocence at the time. The year before, UPS had settled similar charges with the Dept. of Justice and paid a $40-milliion fine as part of a “non-prosecution agreement.”

“FedEx is and has always been innocent,” said Patrick Fitzgerald, FedEx SVP, marketing and communications, in a statement. “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. Many companies would not have had the courage or the resources to defend themselves against false charges. The power of the government was greatly misused when the case was initiated, but the government’s integrity was redeemed by the decision to dismiss the charges today.”


Earlier this spring, Congress passed the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act which, among other things, calls for better coordination between the Drug Enforcement Administration and legitimate drug distributors—which ought to make disputes like the FedEx case a rarity.