How FedEx is Fighting Drug Charges Brought by the DOJ

Big-time marijuana dealers, international cocaine importers and sophisticated networks of interstate heroin pushers — these are the types of people and organizations who tend to be caught in the tentacles of the Department of Justice (DOJ) when it comes to criminal drug charges.
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Now, as our Plantation and West Palm Beach drug crime defense lawyers know, you can add FedEx — the international delivery and courier service — to that list. That’s right: FedEx is currently defending itself against 15 criminal counts enumerated in a 2014 indictment filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

While the DOJ is arguing that FedEx violated federal drug crimes for transporting such illegal substances, the international courier service is arguing that it’s protected against such charges as a company that “carries goods for the public.”

Let’s first address the obvious concern: yes, FedEx, like all other companies, can be charged with crimes just like a regular person. The practice of prosecuting corporations has been in place for more than 100 years, and obtaining a conviction yields all the benefits (tons of fine money for the government) without any of the prison-related overheads typically required for housing individual convicts (i.e. people).

To be sure, the grand jury’s indictment in the case filed by the United States of America reads like one in which the defendant is the leader of some violent, worldwide drug cartel. With allegations of misbranding, money laundering, conspiracies, transportation of prescription pharmaceuticals dispensed with illegal prescriptions and accusations of violations of the federal Controlled Substances Act, it’s hard to believe that FedEx is the named defendant. But you’d better believe it. At the crux of the indictment against FedEx is the following argument set forth by the government: even though FedEx transports and delivers whatever happens to be given to it by the public for the purpose of shipment, the company knew or should’ve known (in certain situations) that it was involved in suspicious drug activity.

This argument, as our Plantation and West Palm Beach drug crime defense lawyers at Leifert & Leifert know, is given a bit of credence in that over 10 years ago, multiple relevant government agencies alerted FedEx to the fact that illegal internet pharmacies were using FedEx’s services to ship prescription medications to individuals without proper prescriptions, in violation of multiple federal drug laws.

Despite the government’s unlimited resources and the fact that FedEx can’t reasonably deny that they were involved in the transportation of such illegal prescription drugs, FedEx is mounting a strong legal response hinged on the “common carrier” defense.

FedEx has argued, in a motion to dismiss the case, that as a “common carrier,” FedEx can’t reasonably be expected to scrutinize and police every single one of the millions of packages it transports every single day that could conceivably contain an illegal item or object. FedEx moves well over 10 million shipments every day and it can’t be forced to play the role of a police officer with every one, the company argues.

The company has a point, and this case will set a major precedent in terms of what kind of responsibility a company has for the packages it ships, despite the fact that it isn’t privy to information concerning what’s inside the specific packages. As our Plantation and West Palm Beach drug crime defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert know, If FedEx, for example, were required to determine the contents of each and every package, that would have a number of damaging effects, among them (i) a major slowdown in business and (ii) a major invasion of privacy effecting the individuals shipping and receiving potentially personal and sensitive items and/or information.

We will keep you tuned on this case as it develops. In the meantime, if you have any further questions about this criminal defense issue, or if you’ve been arrested for or charged with a drug crime in Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade County, please contact our drug crime defense lawyers at Leifert & Leifert by calling 1-888-5-DEFEND (1-888-533-3363) to schedule a free consultation. We look forward to assisting you.

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