Legal Issues

by Tim Cushing


Filed Under:
dea, deliveries, doj, drug trafficking

Companies:
fedex



DOJ Drops Stupid Drug Trafficking Charges Against FedEx After Judge Criticizes Its 'Novel Prosecution'

from the The-Man-reluctantly-moves-on-to-hassling-other-parties dept

After two years, the DOJ has decided to drop its bogus conspiracy/drug trafficking case against Federal Express. In July 2014, FedEx was hit with an indictment for allegedly knowingly delivering illegal/counterfeit drugs to a handful of sketchy recipients.

The government insisted FedEx perform interdiction efforts for it by opening boxes and determining (without guidance) whether or not the contents were legit. FedEx pointed out that it was in the package delivery business, not the law enforcement business. The DEA shrugged and said, "Do better." FedEx said, "Why don't you give us a list of people/businesses you think are engaged in illegal activities?" The DOJ refused to do so and rewarded FedEx's good faith efforts with an indictment.

An indictment is easy to obtain, as anyone familiar with the machinations of grand juries is aware. The DOJ's case, however, immediately fell apart after it dragged its purple and orange ham sandwich into a process that's actually adversarial. Judge Charles Breyer -- who we know from his hilariously-redacted denial of HP's heavily-redacted request to seal documents and his interest in the FBI's possibly-illegal courthouse step wiretaps -- presided over the opening arguments… and that was pretty much all he had to hear.

Maria Dinzeo of Courthouse News Service reports:

Addressing the court briefly, Breyer said, "I'm quite familiar with this industry. I'm deeply concerned by tragic consequences caused by sales of toxic substances to individuals, including children, who have not had a direct consultation with a licensed physician"

But this case was "entirely different," Breyer said. "The court has been asked to determine if defendant should be held criminally liable as a co-conspirator. As a result of detailed opening statements by the government and defense and accepting factual assertions as uncontested, the court concludes the defendants are factually innocent. They did not have criminal intent."

Breyer emphasized that FedEx repeatedly offered to help the government, asking officials to identify a particular customer shipping illegal substances, so that it might stop picking up its packages.

"The DEA was unwilling or incapable of providing that information to FedEx," Breyer said. "Rather the government decided to pursue this novel prosecution."

When judges call something "novel," it's rarely because they're impressed. "Novel" is a polite way of saying "bullshit." Or "insane." It's a word pro se plaintiffs hear quite frequently. The DOJ is probably not quite as used to it, as even its weakest arguments tend to be granted more deference than they deserve.

That was enough to convince the DOJ to drop the charges, wrapping up another ridiculous situation where drug warrior zealotry has culminated in The Man sticking it to Himself.

The DEA certainly could have intercepted suspicious packages and examined them itself, but it chose to pass that burden on to the intermediary. This suggests its investigations aren't going as smoothly as it might have hoped. Probable cause for search warrants isn't a particularly high bar, but the DEA presumably either can't meet it, or would rather let others do the work for it and save it the trouble of filling out the paperwork.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2016 @ 10:05am

    This suggests its investigations aren't going as smoothly as it might have hoped.

    It suggests that they chose the MBA taught option; when you have a problem, tell somebody else to solve it for you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2016 @ 10:25am

    All the dog needs is to keep charging till it finds a judge with a rubber stamp.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    freedomfan (profile), 21 Jun 2016 @ 10:25am

    DEA = Contender for least constitutional federal agency

    Is there any part of DEA that doesn't connote "very bad joke with dangerous punchline"? At least this story didn't end with the DEA killing someone because a lying sack of... ahem... "confidential informant" claimed that a person at a different address sold him a bag of weed or some pills.

    Oh, and, sorry ATF, you are putting up a valiant effort to take the bottom spot. But, the DEA edges you out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Thacker, 21 Jun 2016 @ 10:47am

    These sorts of prosecutions are particularly insidious. The government sues companies for refusing to violate privacy and act as the government's deputy, which would force every company to do so. Even worse, in the end it often causes people to blame the companies instead of the real villains, making it harder to fix, plus companies and industries that capitulate start lobbying for their competitors to face the same rules in the name of fairness.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 21 Jun 2016 @ 2:27pm

      We have a winner!

      Even worse, in the end it often causes people to blame the companies instead of the real villains, making it harder to fix, plus companies and industries that capitulate start lobbying for their competitors to face the same rules in the name of fairness.

      Hence why they do it. By forcing private companies to do their dirty work for them the company gets the blame if the matter goes public, while the agency gets to pretend to be shocked, shocked I say at how the company took their simple and absolutely law-abiding instructions and instead did something far in excess of what they wanted.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 21 Jun 2016 @ 10:48am

    How many Cops/police/officers

    Anyone wondering what the TSA is doing??
    If you look it up, there are TONS of policing agencies..
    And the TSA has been sticking its nose into MOST of them..

    Just a question...WHAT is the TSA responsible for??
    Seen them on Copy right raids.
    Airports and transportation..
    Working for the Olympic committee, to Cut down NON-Official Olympic products..

    Why dont the DEA get the TSA to do another job..AND GET PAID TONS for it..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2016 @ 1:52pm

      Re: How many Cops/police/officers

      TSA - Transportation Safety Administration.

      Why is TSA riding along with other law enforcement agencies?

      If I had to guess, it's probably to ensure that their fellow law enforcement officers are safely transported to and from the raid.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Christopher Clark, 21 Jun 2016 @ 11:39am

    FedEx Drug Trafficking

    There have been so many ill informed, stupid, comments regarding this case it's breathtaking. FedEx, despite what this clown Breyer asserts was as guilty as a defendant can possibly be. There is a very good reason that Walgreens, CVS, and UPS paid substantial fines. The reason is they were guilty.

    I was a witness in this case. I was a FedEx courier for 15 years and personally picked up hundreds of these packages from phony "pharmacies."

    Unbeknownst to me and other FedEx couriers the DEA had approached FedEx attempting to stem the tidal wave of opiates flooding the country. FedEx sales, management, and drivers, knew well before any Law Enforcement where these phony prescriptions were originating from.

    That's the way Law Enforcement works, they rely on good citizens to let them know when illegal activity is taking place. The DEA knew these drugs were being shipped but the shippers continually moved. FedEx actually demanded special credit terms from these pharmacies so when they inevitably got shut down, they would not lose payment for services.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2016 @ 11:50am

      Re: FedEx Drug Trafficking

      So, you felt the need to post this BS multiple times?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        mike, 25 Jun 2016 @ 7:56pm

        Re: Re: FedEx Drug Trafficking

        Yea this Christopher Clark is as full of crap as the day is long ! Trying to think he is the god of others and supporting some war on drugs. Anyone has the right to do any kind of drugs he wants ! It's no one else's business. there should be no such thing as the DEA period !

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      David (profile), 21 Jun 2016 @ 12:00pm

      Re: FedEx Drug Trafficking

      So impressed with yourself that you will post it twice more.

      How novel.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2016 @ 2:07pm

      Re: FedEx Drug Trafficking

      " FedEx, despite what this clown Breyer asserts was as guilty as a defendant can possibly be. There is a very good reason that Walgreens, CVS, and UPS paid substantial fines. The reason is they were guilty. "

      No, the reason the other companies paid the fines was because their execs, probably with the consultation with their Boards of Directors, and definitely having consulted their legal counsel, made a business decision as a path forward that led to what they felt was the lesser financial risk.

      And as far as your statement with respects to FedEx being guilty: well, from the ruling:
      As a result of detailed opening statements by the government and defense and accepting factual assertions as uncontested, the court concludes the defendants are factually innocent.

      A statement that the DOJ chose not to appeal.

      So in this case, with all due respect to your opinions, both the Judge and the DOJ seem to be in agreement that FedEx broke any laws in this case. And these days agreement like that is about as common as Hen's teeth.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 21 Jun 2016 @ 4:07pm

      Re: FedEx Drug Trafficking

      You are making very specific accusations. Can you support them?

      Doing so is important because -- as much as a distrust the justice system -- the results of a court case carries a lot more weight than the unsupported comments of a stranger on the internet.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Christopher Clark, 21 Jun 2016 @ 11:39am

    FedEx Drug Trafficking

    There have been so many ill informed, stupid, comments regarding this case it's breathtaking. FedEx, despite what this clown Breyer asserts was as guilty as a defendant can possibly be. There is a very good reason that Walgreens, CVS, and UPS paid substantial fines. The reason is they were guilty.

    I was a witness in this case. I was a FedEx courier for 15 years and personally picked up hundreds of these packages from phony "pharmacies."

    Unbeknownst to me and other FedEx couriers the DEA had approached FedEx attempting to stem the tidal wave of opiates flooding the country. FedEx sales, management, and drivers, knew well before any Law Enforcement where these phony prescriptions were originating from.

    That's the way Law Enforcement works, they rely on good citizens to let them know when illegal activity is taking place. The DEA knew these drugs were being shipped but the shippers continually moved. FedEx actually demanded special credit terms from these pharmacies so when they inevitably got shut down, they would not lose payment for services.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2016 @ 1:40pm

      Re: FedEx Drug Trafficking

      There was also another organization that relied on the citizens reporting on suspicious things they see.

      Report any deviant behaviour and get rewarded by the targets of what you say hauled off to the camps.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Christopher Clark, 21 Jun 2016 @ 11:39am

    FedEx Drug Trafficking

    There have been so many ill informed, stupid, comments regarding this case it's breathtaking. FedEx, despite what this clown Breyer asserts was as guilty as a defendant can possibly be. There is a very good reason that Walgreens, CVS, and UPS paid substantial fines. The reason is they were guilty.

    I was a witness in this case. I was a FedEx courier for 15 years and personally picked up hundreds of these packages from phony "pharmacies."

    Unbeknownst to me and other FedEx couriers the DEA had approached FedEx attempting to stem the tidal wave of opiates flooding the country. FedEx sales, management, and drivers, knew well before any Law Enforcement where these phony prescriptions were originating from.

    That's the way Law Enforcement works, they rely on good citizens to let them know when illegal activity is taking place. The DEA knew these drugs were being shipped but the shippers continually moved. FedEx actually demanded special credit terms from these pharmacies so when they inevitably got shut down, they would not lose payment for services.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2016 @ 3:39am

      Re: FedEx Drug Trafficking

      No really, I think if you post it one more time it will make it true.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2016 @ 5:21am

      Re: FedEx Drug Trafficking

      Would you really want the FexEx, UPS, DHL or US mail checked and refused to carry parcels or letters (you can fit quite a bit of LSD in a letter after all) on their whim (a.k.a. "concerned citizens' voices")? Without a court order, without any real supervision?

      Imagine, your... hairstyle deemed inappropriate (by concerned citizens, no less) makes you ineligible to post mail. Or, to extend a bit your line of reasoning, to post anything. Anywhere. And definitely online.

      I do not like the idea much, but maybe - to illustrate the consequences - you should be subject to it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    David (profile), 21 Jun 2016 @ 11:59am

    The DOJ is novel.

    The only real novelty is they dropped the case.

    Why is it that every time I tried to type DOJ my fingers typed DOG?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Robert McKenna, 23 Jun 2016 @ 4:44pm

      Re: The DOJ is novel.

      David :
      You're so right. Usually the way the, that is, our great group of bureaucrats forego legislation is to just let it lay until the statute of limitations runs out.
      That way they have a sword above to insure your at least partial behavior.
      And we pay them to do this !

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Eric Goldman (profile), 21 Jun 2016 @ 12:53pm

    UPS Settlement

    As an earlier commenter mentioned, UPS paid the DOJ $40M to settle virtually identical charges. http://www.reuters.com/article/net-us-ups-pharmacies-settlement-idUSBRE92S0DX20130329 So even "novel" theories can generate tens of millions of dollars of ill-gotten gains when pushed by the DOJ and the resources of the U.S. government.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2016 @ 1:34pm

    How about charging the FBI with knowingly and willingly distributing child porn then.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Tony Loro (profile), 21 Jun 2016 @ 5:34pm

    Where does?

    purple and orange ham sandwich come from? Did you coin it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      R.H. (profile), 21 Jun 2016 @ 9:59pm

      Re: Where does?

      Just in case you aren't being sarcastic, there's a saying that, since it's so easy to get an indictment, any semi-competent prosecutor could indict a ham sandwich. Since FedEx's logo is purple and orange and this was such a weak charge, he's calling FedEx the indicted ham sandwich.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 22 Jun 2016 @ 3:55pm

        Re: Re: Where does?

        Thanks for the explanation! I also didn't connect "purple and orange" to FedEx. I guess I just don't have their color scheme memorized.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2016 @ 3:38pm

      Re: Where does?

      No doubt the ham sandwich bit comes from the old saying that a prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict one. The purple and orange part I'm not familiar with.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2016 @ 1:35am

    DOJ

    They can toss without a caber.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JustMe (profile), 22 Jun 2016 @ 8:23am

    Quit giving him grief over the multiple posts

    Look at the timestamps. Regular users of TechDirt know very well that the interface makes it super easy to accidentally post multiple time, especially if you aren't that familiar with the 'novel' way the user is notified of the post.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2016 @ 12:06pm

    What an excellent metaphor for the entire Obama regime.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ivar Ivarson, 22 Jun 2016 @ 1:03pm

    FedEx beats the rapper?

    "FedEx was hit with an indictment for allegedly knowingly delivering illegal/counterfeit drugs to a handful of sketchy recipients."

    Oh, I get it, the packages were delivered to Capitol Hill.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 22 Jun 2016 @ 7:58pm

    FedEx.... the divorce papers must have gone through...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Christopher Clark, 27 Jun 2016 @ 5:06am

    Why the need to search the packages.

    Dear non Transportation experts,

    FedEx spokes criminal Patrick Fitzgerald keeps referring to FedEx being requested by the DEA to have to "deputize" their employees to sniff through the 10 million pkgs..

    Classic bit of misdirection. Look up misdirection and red herring.

    First of all, this is only about Express. Their average daily volume is less than 3 million a day.

    Breyer's wonderment USPS wasn't charged? Really? The DEA told Postal Inspectors and Postal Inspectors blew them off? To protect the pharmacies of course!

    Secondly, the DEA approached FedEx and told them they were probably carrying illegal prescriptions.

    FedEx sales were the first to know where the drugs would be shipped from and booked the business despite they themselves knowing it wasn't legit.

    Managers, even though many are dopes, knew second.

    Then couriers who showed up at nondescript storefronts with the windows papered over, on Calle Ocho. I don't know what legitimate "pharmacies" have an empty front room with a four foot high pile of padded Paks on the middle of the floor?

    Then they keep flying into the pile from a back room through a cutout hole in the wall. Maybe 1,500 the first day.

    The next day FedEx had to modify their operation and send Two couriers, sort bags and a bunch of "Super Tracker" scanners so the couriers could route it at the source and not delay the truck pull times from 200 S Miami Ave 33130 to FLL.

    Fedex said they cooperated with the DEA, then why so few tracking numbers in the indictment?

    At that time couriers returned to the station with pages of FedEx Power Ship printouts with every single tracking number.

    But what the hell do I know!

    BUt

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Christopher Clark, 27 Jun 2016 @ 5:59am

    FedEx Fred Smith $$$ to HRC & Clinton Foundation

    First off, Fred Smith has killed two people in fatal driving incidents. The guy couldn't even drive for his own company.

    Second, both his sons are criminals. Cannon, was charged with trafficking ecstasy, and another one, a frat boy at UVA beat the shit out of some little guy, with his frat brothers. Daddy and a team of FedEx lawyers worked that one out.

    http://annualreport.van.fedex.com/2014/docs/FedEx_2014_Annual_Report.pdf

    This is the 2014 FedEx annual report. On the first page Fred Smith admits Ground drivers are actually FedEx Employees.

    Then go to page 69 under Note 18 where FedEx says "Fedex Ground is not an employer of the drivers of the company's independent contractors.

    Pretty shady, right?

    It's also a violation of PCAOB standard 550 which is now AS 2710, Documenta Containing Audited Financial Statements and Other Information.

    FedEx just settled pre 2007 I\C cases for a total of about $450 Million. Now in 2014 Fred Smith is stating FedEx Ground Drivers are "embodied in their People-Service-Profit culture?"

    You don't know what PSP culture is? Hundreds of pages of FedEx confidential, proprietary manuals will you it's based on the Golden Rule as derived from the Bible & Koran.

    I didn't know any Islam till I read from the FedEx Managers guide, "You are not a believer until you love your brother as yourself. "

    I guess that doesn't apply to the FedEx Ground driver in the giant photo on the 1st page. FedEx is fucking them over real good. No PTO , Holidays, Benefits, Overtime, 50% less total compensation pkg than UPS, maybe 30% less than Express.

    Btw, when Smith signs the 10K he's committing a SOX 302 violation for omitting his own opinion and the resulting fraud.

    You people know about the $millions FedEx has given to the Climtons and Hillary's private meeting with Smith.

    You think they talked about the trial? TPP?

    Hey, I'm a lifelong Dem since 1982 and voted for WJC TWICE.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Christopher Clark, 27 Jun 2016 @ 1:52pm

    Fedex can open pkg at their option or request of Govt officials

    http://www.fedex.com/ag/services/terms.htm

    http://www.fedex.com/ag/services/terms.html
    Right to Inspect
    Your shipment may, at our option or at the request of governmental authorities, be opened and inspected by us or such authorities at any time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Christopher Clark, 27 Jun 2016 @ 1:52pm

    Fedex can open pkg at their option or request of Govt officials

    http://www.fedex.com/ag/services/terms.htm

    http://www.fedex.com/ag/services/terms.html
    Right to Inspect
    Your shipment may, at our option or at the request of governmental authorities, be opened and inspected by us or such authorities at any time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Christopher Clark, 27 Jun 2016 @ 2:54pm

    Call me

    954 257 6135

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Home Cooking Is Killing Restaurants
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.