Carrier Status No Shield|in FedEx Drug Case

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal judge said FedEx is not shielded from drug trafficking and conspiracy charges because of its business as a common carrier, calling its use of that argument “an impossible battle.”
     The federal government’s indictment charges FedEx with distributing and delivering controlled substances for illegal Internet pharmacies, as well as conspiracy to launder money for demanding and accepting payment to ship drugs for dozens of online pharmacies and their customers – including known drug addicts.
     At a hearing Thursday, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer told attorneys that Congress would never have intended for the exemptions for common carriers in the Controlled Substances Act and the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to apply in this case.
     “It’s just common sense,” Breyer said. “Let’s say I’m a drug dealer and I want to be a real middleman. That’s my life’s ambition. And transporting certain controlled substances carries a certain risk. To minimize risk I do a little research and I find there’s an exemption for common carriers. No one can seriously suggest that exemption would apply.”
     He said anyone could decide to become a common carrier, obtain a regulatory certification, then “go rogue.”
     FedEx attorney Raphael Goldman argued that FedEx faces an “unrealistic expectation,” from the government to police the 10 million packages it ships a day, as it has “has no agency” to decide what gets shipped, who ships it and who receives it.
     “I know that,” Breyer said. “I get that there should be an exemption for a common carrier, but does it really apply to a common carrier engaged in, knowingly or unknowingly, in a scheme to deliver illicit drugs? Does this exemption trump that scheme? No. Congress would never say you can be exempted as a common carrier from distributing illicit drugs.”
     He refused to toss the indictment, but said that the government’s prosecution is “fairly novel,” as it turns on the question of what FedEx knew about the drugs and its obligations under the law when it shipped them
     “This is an unusual case. Most cases are ‘Did you do the deed?’ Here, that’s not the issue. It’s a state-of-mind case,” he said.
     Lead FedEx attorney Cristina Arguedas noted that this is the first criminal conspiracy case she has seen where the evidence will show the company’s cooperation with the government to convict the very co-conspirators with which it stands accused of scheming.

%d bloggers like this: