(Updates with Boeing statement in seventh paragraph.)
Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. prosecutors charged 37 people with operating an illegal prescription-drug ring at a Boeing Co. plant in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, where the Chinook military helicopter is manufactured.
All but one person was a current or former employee at the plant, which also makes the V-22 Osprey, Philadelphia U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger said at a news conference today. Chicago- based Boeing reported the suspected ring to federal authorities four years ago, he said.
Of those charged, 23 were indicted for distributing drugs including Actiq, Oxycontin and Xanax. Fourteen others who weren’t indicted face misdemeanor charges of possession.
“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,” Memeger said. No quality or safety problems were found in aircraft being built at the plant, he said.
Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided the plant today, arresting 27 people, Memeger said. Nine others were arrested elsewhere, he said. Memeger wouldn’t comment on the 37th person’s whereabouts.
Boeing said today that it monitored the employees, who worked in production areas, beginning in August 2007 as part of the federal investigation. Of those arrested, 33 were current employees, said Damien Mills, a Boeing spokesman. More than 6,000 people work at the plant, he said.
“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,” Mills said in a phone interview.
He declined to give details on how Boeing monitored the employees. The company is still conducting an internal probe, Mills said.
--Editors: Stephen Farr, Peter Blumberg
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