Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Monday, June 20, 2016

FedEx Not A Drug Dealer After All: Feds Abruptly Drop Case Over Illegal Drug Shipments

Posted By on Mon, Jun 20, 2016 at 2:18 PM

click to enlarge ap_750518287186_4_.jpg

Is the U.S. Justice Department running out of things to do? In 2014, the federal government secured a grand jury indictment of FedEx, on allegations that the delivery giant was in fact a giant drug dealer. The feds claimed FedEx knowingly allowed drug dealers and drug addicts to send and receive illegal shipments of pharmaceutical drugs, some of which were intercepted by wild-eyed addicts en route to rural destinations in opiate-ravaged parts of the Midwest. 

Legal observers at the time said the case was a reach. FedEx even asked the Justice Department to share a list of known dealers and addicts so that it could suspend service; the feds refused. After all, if convicted, FedEx could have been fined $1.6 billion.

Instead, Justice Department attorneys took the extraordinary step of abandoning the case mid-trial last week. You could ask yourself why the government waited that long.

The feds agreed to a trial by judge, rather than jury; and in the spring, that judge, Charles Breyer, dismissed most of the 18 charges filed against FedEx, citing sloppy evidence. Breyer was no kinder in court last week when the feds finally ceded the field.

Breyer made note of the Drug Enforcement Administration's refusal to supply FedEx with a list of known drug dealers and drug users when asked. He also called the government's case "novel," which is a nice, judge-like way of calling it "bullshit."

"The court has been asked to determine if defendant should be held criminally liable as a co-conspirator," Breyer said in his decision accepting the government's motion to dismiss the case. "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."

FedEx lead attorney Cristina Aguedas cut a finger-wagging figure. "The government should take a very hard look at how they made the remendously poor decision to file these charges," she said Friday. "Many companies would not have the courage or the resources to defend themselves against these false charges. The power of the government was greatly misused when the case was brought."

The FedEx case was inherited by current U.S. Attorney Brian Stretch from his predecessor, Melinda Haag. Haag, you may recall, wasn't exactly beloved in local drug reform circles for her office's pursuit of asset forfeiture proceedings against state-legal medical cannabis dispensaries.

Several of those cases were finally dropped this year as well. 
  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , , ,

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Bio:
Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.

Comments


Comments are closed.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook

Slideshows

  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"