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UPS to pay $40m fine in online pharmacies case

SAN FRANCISCO — Shipping company UPS agreed Friday to pay $40 million to end a federal criminal probe connected to deliveries it made for illicit online pharmacies.

The Department of Justice announced that the Atlanta-based company would also ‘‘take steps’’ to block illicit online drug dealers from using their delivery service.

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The Justice Department said the fine amount is the money UPS collected from suspect online pharmacies. UPS won’t be charged with any crimes. Its biggest rival, FedEx Corp., has also been a target of the federal investigation.

The investigation of the two companies stems from a global campaign to shut down illicit online pharmacies launched in 2005. Since then, dozens of arrests have been made and thousands of websites closed worldwide as investigators continue to broaden the probe beyond the operators.

UPS and FedEx each disclosed they were the targets of a federal investigation in regulatory filings last year.

UPS signaled at the time it was working on a resolution with the Justice Department.

FedEx, on the other hand, asserted no wrongdoing and said it would not accept a plea agreement.

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