Denver Bar Association
October 2000
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Search and Seizure



Not just a delivery service anymore, folks: Introducing FedEx Investigations.

by Publicus

The Denver Rocky Mountain News reported on Aug. 10 that federal authorities made a major drug bust "after a Federal Express worker in California noticed five boxes shipped from Denver."

Make no mistake. Federal Express is damn good at what they do.

The article stated, "A FedEx security officer was suspicious and opened one."

Damn good.

"While the FedEx employee was gazing at the box of pills, someone arrived to pick up the shipment . . . FedEx workers quickly taped the box and handed over the shipment. A FedEx security officer secretly followed the man who took it."

That's why our office uses FedEx.

Sometimes we send five, six, maybe seven boxes to clients or firms or courts, and we have to be certain that things are kosher. We're a respectable group of attorneys. Can't be too cautious. Knowing that FedEx is opening our packages is another safeguard for our law practice, kind of like malpractice insurance. You don't always need the insurance, but it's nice to know it's there.

Even better, FedEx doesn't charge for this service. Whatever expense there is in employee time, providing examining space, using tape cutting and box cutting materials, secretly following its customers, etc. is borne by FedEx itself. FedEx isn't like some cheap car rental agency where you have to mark an extra box if you want insurance.

And the cost can't be cheap. We can only guess at FedEx's expense in training employees to open packages, teaching them to determine which substances in a package are legal or illegal, and establishing criteria about which package to open. Ideally of course, FedEx would open every package entrusted to it, but even a company as large and socially responsible as FedEx has limitations.

And FedEx isn't perfect. Maybe the employee should not have waited for the fifth package, maybe he should have acted earlier--upon seeing the third, or even the second, package. At what point should he grow suspicious and start cutting through tape and cardboard? Is there standard criteria supplied by FedEx? Should the criteria be strengthened? How does a FedEx employee know if he's staring at an open box of dog biscuits or cakes of cocaine? Are there pharmacists on staff in the warehouses? Do the employees receive the latest updates in the U.S. Code relating to illegal substances?

But this is mere quibbling.

In any event, by sending this article to The Docket by FedEx, I know I have at least one reader.



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