Boeing thought a lot of employees who work on military aircraft at their factory in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania were on drugs. So they brought in the feds.

The FBI, DEA and federal prosecutors announced Thursday the arrest of 37 current and former employees (and one non-employee) accused of abusing prescription drugs, the result of a "coordinated, long-term, undercover effort" that Boeing cooperated with.

Officials said 23 of the employees illegally distributed the drugs while 14 were charged with attempted possession of the drugs being sold by their coworkers. (That's a misdemeanor charge and wouldn't be in the indictment. Full list of those charged here.)

Each defendant — who range in age from 23 to 65 — the feds say "either sold a controlled substance to an FBI cooperator or bought what was believed to be a controlled substance from the cooperator but which was, in fact, a placebo."

The sting operation was investigated by both the FBI and the DEA. The drugs being distributed, according to the feds "include but are not limited to fentanyl (Actiq), oxycodone (Oxycontin), alprazolam (Xanax) and buprenorphine (Suboxone)."

"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," U.S. Attorney David Memeger said in a statement. "Prescription drug abuse has been on the rise in our community, and this is just one example of how pervasive the problem is."

Republished with permission from Authored by Ryan J. Reilly. Photo via AP. TPM provides breaking news, investigative reporting and smart analysis of politics.