Archive for February, 2019

What It’s Like When Armed FDA Agents Raid Your Place While You’re Getting the Kids Ready for School

Monday, February 11th, 2019


I think there were 8 or 10 of them. Most of them wore beige, bulletproof vests. Some vests said FDA. They had guns, but left them in the holsters. I hadn’t actually noticed until my roommate said her son later told her they had guns.

My roommate had answered the door. I was downstairs with my daughter, helping her select a different dress when I heard a man’s voice. I got up and walked through the kids’ room to see a beige and black clad man with a crewcut coming down the stairs. He asked for me by name. He asked if anyone else was down there besides us, emphatically and repeatedly. I said no. I followed him upstairs.

In the kitchen he informed me that they had a Search and Seizure Warrant related to the distribution of pharmaceuticals without a prescription over the internet. I don’t remember if I nodded or perhaps I said “ok.” In the movies, people scream at the monsters, but in real life, we get quiet in the face of terror.

My daughter was still in her underwear. One of the men asked if we could put some clothes on her. The the beige and black agent – let’s call him Agent P, was the apparent mouthpiece for the group of men milling about my apartment. He explained that they would conduct a search the entire premises. Wait — they weren’t all men. In the stream of puffy crewcut, midwestern faces, there was a black woman, S. She had an interesting name and demeanor that I liked.

I don’t remember the next 40 minutes clearly. In my head it plays out like a jumble of disconnected vignettes. Agent P asking my roommate, if she could get the two kids to school so I could stay. Another agent asking if that was what I was wearing to work, adding that if I needed to change, then Agent S (the token female) would accompany me to my room — and if I needed to use the bathroom she would accompany me there too. They wanted to ask me some things, someplace private. I remember explaining to them that I had work meetings I had to get to in the morning but otherwise could take the rest of the day off. Agent P told my roommate that she had signed for some of the packages. She nodded with a confused frown. I felt terrible. I interrupted to tell him she didn’t know about any of this stuff. They found both my phones, personal and work, and asked if there were any more in the apartment. I said no. A notification came up on my personal phone. The agent holding it showed it to Agent P without a word and they exchanged looks. Later on, Agent P would explain the evidence-gathering and forensics that they would perform on my computer and hard drives for evidence like the message that came up on the phone. Another agent asked me about my storage space. He wanted to know where it was, and if I could take them there. I showed them on google maps. They moved back and forth through the building hallway, holding the apartment and building doors open to create a passage between the innards of my apartment and their cars parked at the curb. I lamented outloud about what my neighbors would think. They said that they had told them they were there to investigate a rat infestation. Right. Armed FDA agents investigating a rat infestation. The next day a friend in Boston called me to tell me that a friend of his from the neighborhood called him to exclaim I’d been arrested by the Feds.

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