FBI agents arrested 36 current and former Boeing employees of the company's rotorcraft factory near Philadelphia on 29 September for allegedly buying and selling prescription drugs.

The sting targeted 23 people on charges of illegally distributing several drugs, including Xanax and Oxycontin, the FBI said. Fourteen other people are charged with attempted possession of the drugs. One non-employee was also arrested.

Federal agents arrested the alleged drug users because of the "critical role that these employees play in manufacturing military aircraft," according to US attorney David Memeger.

The FBI credited "Boeing officials" for tipping off federal agents about suspicions of illegal drug activity on Boeing's property.

Boeing's factory in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania assembles the CH-47 Chinook and the fuselage and tail of the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey.

It was not immediately clear if the FBI raid disrupted production work. It happened only one week after Boeing staged a grand opening inside the factory of a renovated final assembly line for the CH-47. The $120 million project is expected to allow the programme to increase production from two to six aircraft per month.

Source: Flight International