FedEx Denies Illegal Drug Delivery Charges
Delivery giant FedEx has denied a United States Department of Justice (DoJ) charge that it has transported illegal drugs for customers.
The company said it was innocent of charges that it "knowingly and intentionally conspired to distribute" controlled substances and prescription drugs sold by illegal online pharmacies.
The firm said it would plead not guilty to the indictment and "defend the integrity and good name of its employees".
Authorities said they had warned FedEx in 2004 that its shipping services were being used by illegal online pharmacies.
Throughout a nine-year investigation, the DoJ said it had found evidence of claims that some company employees in three states had previously voiced concerns.
It said employees in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia had expressed safety issues to senior management.
These included complaints that trucks were "stopped on the road by online pharmacy customers demanding packages of pills".
Officials added that sometimes a delivery address would be an empty property or school, where several carloads of people were waiting for the FedEx driver to arrive.
The indictment said that drivers were threatened if they insisted on delivering packages to the delivery addresses.
Instead of putting an end to these activities, FedEx was accused of adopting a procedure whereby internet pharmacy packages from problematic shippers were held for pick-up at specific stations rather than the recipients' address.
In its defence, FedEx said it was a transportation company, not the police.
It said the privacy of its customers, which is essential to its business, had been threatened by the charges.
And while it said it would support and assist the authorities, it said it could not enforce the law.
This is not the first time US officials have set their sights on companies over online pharmaceuticals.
In a similar case, advertising giant Google agreed to pay $500m (£295m) to settle charges that it sold advertisements to Canadian-based online pharmacies that marketed drugs to Americans, in violation of US law.