Feds arrest 37 in drug raid at Boeing plant

U.S. prosecutors have charged 36 current and former workers at a suburban Philadelphia Boeing Co. plant, and one non-employee, with illegally selling or buying prescription drugs at the factory, Reuters reports. One more arrest was expected, federal authorities said.

Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Administration agents nabbed their suspects on Thursday morning as they showed up for work at Boeing’s Ridley Park, Pa., factory, where 6,000 employees produce H-47 Chinook military helicopters and V-22 Osprey vertical take-off aircraft, Philadelphia Magazine reports.

Twenty-three people were charged with selling the prescription painkiller Oxycontin and other illegal drugs and 14 were charged with attempted possession of various drugs, Reuters reports.

“This wasn’t an organized ring. It was a number of independent actors,” Philadelphia U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger said at a press conference Thursday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. “A number of independent sellers and no shortage of buyers were found by investigators.”

The bust came after a four-year federal investigation, Reuters reports. According to Reuters:

Boeing spokesman Damien Mills said that in May 2006 some employees contacted the company’s internal ethics group with suspicions there was illegal drug activity at the plant.

He said Boeing launched an internal probe, and in August 2007 turned its findings over to federal investigators.

Boeing said that it’s been monitoring the employees, all of whom work in production, since August 2007, when the federal investigation began, Bloomberg News reports. “We took appropriate steps to ensure the safety of our employees and the absolute integrity and quality of the products we produce for our customers,” Boeing Spokesman Damien Mills said, according to Bloomberg News.

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