For four years FBI agents monitored dozens of Boeing employees at a plant near Philadelphia while they bought, sold and took a veritable pharmacy's worth of prescription pain pills while on the job.
Details of the supposed workplace drug ring were revealed in unsealed indictments today after a FBI and DEA raid at the sprawling Ridley Park plant in Delaware County yesterday.
In all 36 Boeing workers were arrested and charged with crimes.
The feds built their case using undercover agents who say they bought drugs like oxycodone and Xanax from employees and also sold pills that were advertised as prescription meds, but were in fact placebos.
According to court documents, the drugs included the standard OxyContin pills and Suboxone, but other more exotic meds were also offered.
As an example, Michael Patterson, a Boeing employee and the former president of United Aerospace Workers Local 1069, is said in an indictment to have sold all kinds of drugs including OxyContin and even fentanyl lollipops.
Workers at that plant construct military aircraft including the V-22 Osprey, and the CH-47 Chinook helicopter.
The investigation into drug abuse at the plant was launched in 2007. So presumably for four years, these employees were essentially allowed to take drugs while agents monitored them.
Of the 36 employees facing charges, 14 are only facing misdemeanor charges for attempting to buy the drugs. The others are facing more serious charges for selling the drugs.
The FBI explained its reasoning in targeting the users as well as the sellers in a statement.
"This 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," said U.S. Attorney Memeger. "Prescription drug abuse has been on the rise in our community, and this is just one example of how pervasive the problem is."