Forbes – Please, FedEx, Fight Back Against Federal Extortion

25 Aug

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Don’t let rogue prosecutors further expand their protection racket

“Nice business ya got there. Pity if sumpin’ were to happen to it.”

Using fear and intimidation to extort money from legitimate businesses is a tried-and-true mafia tactic. But what happens when the federal government gets into this racket, demanding billions in “settlements” from an ever-expanding array of companies by threatening them with a corporate death sentence if they don’t knuckle under? We’re going to find out. Because this time, maybe they chose the wrong victim.

Tired of closing down state-approved medical marijuana dispensaries and seizing the property of their landlords, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California Melinda Haag, an Obama appointee, is hunting for bigger game. Flush from shaking down Walmart, Johnson and Johnson, and UPS for tens of millions, she has indicted the FedEx Corporation on drug trafficking and “conspiracy to launder” money charges. The prize purse this time? $1.6 billion.

What did FedEx allegedly do? The company shipped prescription drug packages from Internet pharmacies that Haag doesn’t like. That’s the drug trafficking accusation. Then it accepted payment for their services. That’s the conspiracy to launder money.

But wait, isn’t it the job of the Drug Enforcement Agency to prosecute Internet pharmacies that flout the law? That’s what FedEx thought. How are package delivery services – or insurers, landlords, or even utilities for that matter – supposed to distinguish between legitimate online pharmacies and fly-by-night operators? Have “know your customer” laws imposed on banks now metastasized into the forced deputation of all businesses to root out and deny services to anyone the federal government doesn’t like? Between prosecutions like this and the infamous Operation Choke Point, it seems that way.

To read the rest of the column in Forbes click here.

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