Federal Grand Jury Indicts FedEx for Conspiring to Deliver Illegal Drugs (No Officials Charged)

Monday, July 21, 2014
Fred Smith, founder, president and CEO of FedEx

Shipping giant FedEx has been charged by federal prosecutors with knowingly shipping illegal drugs from online pharmacies to consumers, according to an indictment filed Thursday.


FedEx has been accepting such shipments at least since 2004, prosecutors say. The 15-count indictment says that the company had been warned by the federal government at least six times that it was acting as a drug courier.


The online pharmacies at issue were those that didn’t rely on prescriptions from physicians. Rather, they relied on an online questionnaire filled out by buyers without a doctor ever examining a patient. According to the indictment, the drugs shipped by FedEx included Ambien, Diazepam, Alprazolam (Xanax), and Clonazepam.


The indictment charges FedEx with conspiring with two related companies, the Chhabra-Smoley Organization, from 2000 through 2008, and Superior Drugs, from 2002 through 2010. “FedEx knew that the Chhabra-Smoley Organization and Superior Drugs were each distributing controlled substances and prescription drugs based solely on a customer's completion of an online questionnaire and that these organizations were distributing drugs outside of the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose,” according to U.S. Attorney Melissa Haag. “Nevertheless, FedEx continued to ship controlled substances and prescription drugs for the Chhabra-Smoley Organization and Superior Drugs.”


Also according to the indictment:


  • FedEx drivers feared for their safety as they delivered packages to vacant lots, parking lots and other sites. Drivers were also stopped mid-route by people who demanded their packages of drugs.
  • FedEx set up special credit arrangements for online pharmacies because of the knowledge that such businesses were likely to disappear without paying their shipping bills.
  • The company also set up a special commission structure for sales to online pharmacies because of the likelihood that such companies would close and move to another sales territory without warning.



The company is charged with conspiring to distribute controlled substances, distributing controlled substance, conspiring to distribute misbranded drugs, and misbranding drugs. FedEx faces fines of up to $820 million, but unlike small-time drug couriers, no one at the company faces jail time over the charges.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

FedEx Indicted For Its Role In Distributing Controlled Substances And Prescription Drugs (U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California)

FedEx Accused of Drug Trafficking (by Mike Heuer, Courthouse News Service)

State Accuses FedEx of Mishandling Hazardous Waste 1,500 Times over 6 Years (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

FDA Says Most Online Pharmacies Are Frauds (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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