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Dozens Arrested In Drug Raid At Pa. Boeing Plant

More than three dozen people have been charged in a prescription drug sweep that included a raid on a Boeing plant near Philadelphia that makes military helicopters.

The arrests happened Thursday morning at the 5,400-employee plant in Ridley Park.

Federal authorities say 37 people were charged with illegal distribution of a prescription drug. All but one is an employee or former employee of the plant.

U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger said the arrests are the result of a four-year undercover investigation. He said Boeing contacted authorities to report "suspicions that drug activity was occurring on their property."

Undercover agents purchased the drugs — Oxycodone and Xanax — or sold others placebos.

Memeger said the Justice Department focused not only on the people selling the drugs but also on the employees who used them because they play a critical role in making aircraft used by the U.S. military. Workers at the plant build the H-47 Chinook helicopter and the V-22 Osprey.

It did not appear to be an organized drug ring, but rather a "nebulous" series of independent actors, authorities said.

"These sales placed the individual abusers, as well as society at large, at risk," said DEA agent Vito S. Guarino.

"Boeing commends the U.S. Attorney's Office, and other federal law enforcement agencies for their rigorous and thorough investigation, throughout which we took appropriate steps to ensure safety of our employees and the absolute integrity and quality of the products we produce for our customers," company spokesman Damien Mills said in a statement.

Employees are tested if they're suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the statement said.

NPR's Carrie Johnson contributed to this report, which contains material from The Associated Press

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NPR Staff and Wires