DEA and FBI agents yesterday arrested 22 employees and former employees of Boeing’s Ridley Park, Pa. plant, and one non-employee, in an undercover sting aimed at prescription drug abuse at the manufacturing plant, according to Vito Guarino, DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge.
The 23 people were charged with the illegal distribution of prescription drugs, which included fentanyl (brand name: Actiq), oxycodone (Oxycontin), alprazolam (Xanax) and buprenorphine (Suboxone). These drugs were being distributed at the Boeing plant that manufactures CH-47 Chinook helicopters and V-22 fuselages, the DEA said.
The charges allege that each individual either sold a controlled substance to an FBI cooperator or bought a placebo they believed to be a controlled substance from the cooperator. “The defendants in this case are accused of diverting controlled substances and selling them to alleged abusers without any medical supervision,” said Guarino. “These sales placed the individual abusers, as well as society at large, at risk. Part of DEA’s mission is to investigate the unlawful diversion of pharmaceutical controlled substances and bring those involved to justice, whether it is a doctor, pharmacist, or street distributor.”
In addition to the federal indictments, 14 others face misdemeanor charges of attempted possession of the various drugs being sold by their coworkers. Misdemeanor charges are handled by local law enforcement, so these individuals were not charged in the federal indictment. U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger said the investigation and prosecution focused not only on the sellers, but also on the users “because of the critical role that these employees play in manufacturing military aircraft.”
Boeing spokesman Damien Mills told AIN, “An internal Boeing investigation determined that potentially illegal activities were being conducted by certain employees at the Philadelphia Boeing facility. Boeing reported the company’s findings to federal law enforcement officials and cooperated fully with the subsequent investigation and interdiction.”