22 FedEx Workers Arrested in Marijuana Shipping SchemeBy Esther Schrader
LOS ANGELES TIMES -- WASHINGTON
Federal authorities said Thursday they have broken up a Los Angeles-based drug trafficking operation that used the Federal Express overnight delivery system to ship tons of marijuana across the United States.
Sweeping into FedEx warehouses and offices across the country, federal agents on Thursday arrested 22 drivers, customer service representatives and security agents who they allege variously packed the marijuana into FedEx boxes, placed bogus labels on them and handed them over to dealers parked along delivery routes.
FedEx shipped over 4,000 boxes of drugs across the country, officials said. Like the majority of the packages FedEx handles, the shipments were picked up by 4 p.m. and delivered by 10 a.m. the next day.
The scheme was masterminded by Mark Morant, 33, a Jamaican drug lord working out of a Los Angeles warehouse, Drug Enforcement Administration officials said. He bribed dozens of FedEx employees over a span of at least two years to ship more than 121 tons of marijuana from Southern California to dealers in New York, New Jersey, Boston and hundreds of cities and towns across the East Coast, officials said. As of Thursday evening, Morant was still being sought.
One of the world’s most powerful drug cartels, the Tijuana, Mexico-based Arellano Felix gang, smuggled the marijuana to the Jamaican traffickers in Southern California, said Joe Keefe, head of the DEA’s special operations division. But the scheme to use FedEx trucks, planes and warehouses was the brainchild of Morant, Keefe said.
For their labors, FedEx employees pocketed more than $2,000 a week each from the traffickers, whether the packages were delivered or not, he said.
FedEx officials, who cooperated with DEA agents during the 20-month investigation, said that never before to their knowledge has their delivery service been used to transport illicit goods.