"We have received requests for information from the DOJ in the Northern District of California in connection with a criminal investigation relating to the transportation of packages for online pharmacies that may have shipped pharmaceuticals in violation of federal law," the company stated. UPS said it was cooperating with the investigation and is "exploring the possibility of resolving this matter."
FedEx was more defiant. Fitzgerald said the company has no plans to plea bargain with federal officials.
"Settlement is not an option when there is no illegal activity," Fitzgerald said.
Both companies said they were served with grand jury subpoenas between 2007 and 2009. Fitzgerald declined to discuss why FedEx was now disclosing the investigation, but he confirmed that the company is under investigation for allegedly aiding and abetting online pharmacies that illegally ship prescription drugs.
Fitzgerald said the Drug Enforcement Agency has refused FedEx's request for a list of online pharmacies under investigation. Without such a list, Fitzgerald said it's impossible to know which companies are operating illegally.
"We have no interest in violating the privacy of our customers by opening and inspecting their packages in an attempt to determine the legality of the contents," Fitzgerald said.
Associated Press writer Alicia A. Caldwell in Washington contributed to this report.