Arrests Made in $80M Eli Lilly Drug Theft

Two Cuban citizens living in Florida have been charged with their alleged involvement in the largest drug heist in Connecticut history, according to law enforcement officials.

Updated at 4:49 p.m.:

A quick trip to Enfield back in March 2010 for Cuban brothers Amaury Villa and Amed Villa has not ended the way they'd hoped.

The men were arrested and charged by federal authorities Thursday morning for their alleged participation in the state's largest drug heist, the theft of $80 million worth of pharmaceutical drugs from the Eli Lilly Co. distribution center in the Enfield industrial park.

“The charges announced today are the result of a sustained and thorough investigation by the FBI and the Enfield Police Department,” U.S. Attorney David Fein said in a news release.

"As a result of their efforts, and our counterparts in Florida and across the country, we believe that a prolific cargo theft ring has been dismantled,” Fein said.

“I am extremely happy that the alleged perpetrators in this case have been identified and arrested,” Enfield Chief Carl Sferrazza said in the release.

"I believe this case shows that collaborative efforts between federal law enforcement officers and local law enforcement officers can yield successful results. I would like to thank the New Haven Office of the FBI for the spirit of cooperation between their agents and members of the Enfield Police Department,” the chief said.

Eli Lilly officials applauded the apprehension of the two suspects and the recovery of the stolen pharmaceuticals.

"For more than two years, Lilly has cooperated with this criminal investigation _ providing important information to federal and local authorities to help piece together the details of the theft," Maria Crowe, President, Manufacturing Operations, Eli Lilly and Company, said in a released statement. 

"We applaud the dedication of the Enfield Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice prosecutors in New Haven, Newark, and Miami, and the Miami Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force,  who have worked tirelessly to identify and apprehend those suspected of being involved in the March 2010 burglary.”

 Lilly plans to destroy the products when they are no longer needed as evidence, a press release said. The company has strengthed security at its facilities and pharmaceutical transportation, according to the release.

Thursday afternoon Sferrazza said the theft is the biggest investigation in which Enfield police have taken part. Because it is an ongoing investigation, Sferrazza declined to say how many Enfield officers have been involved.

“Obviously at the time we realized the magnitude of the case,” Sferrazza said. “It became a priority for us.”

Sferrazza said he doesn’t know when the entire case will be resolved. He said what’s most important is that the investigation proceed in an organized and careful manner, and investigators not make any mistakes any concluding the case.

Amaury, 37, and Amed, 46, traveled to Connecticut via New York where they allegedly purchased tools at a Flushing, N.Y., Home Depot that they used to cut a hole in the warehouse roof and disable the security system, according to the US Attorney's Office.

Federal officials alleged that Amed Villa "touched a water bottle that had been stored within the warehouse and left that bottle inside the warehouse after he departed."

The day before the burglary Amaury, and possibly Amed, checked into a Windsor hotel, where Amaury stayed two months prior. Amaury checked out of the hotel later in the morning the day of the theft.

The investigation of the Enfield warehouse theft was led by the FBI in New Haven and the Enfield Police Department, with the assistance of several other United States Attorney’s Offices and federal, state and local law enforcement agencies that have been investigating large-scale thefts of pharmaceuticals and other products, the release said. As a result of these investigations, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida today announced the unsealing of an indictment charging 11 individuals, including Amaury Villa, with various offenses related to the possession and sale of stolen products, including pharmaceuticals stolen from the Eli Lilly warehouse in March 2010. 

One count of the Southern District of Florida indictment charges Amaury Villa with possessing 4,654 boxes of the pharmaceuticals stolen from the Eli Lilly warehouse, including Zyprexa, Cymbalta, Prozac, Gemzar and other medicines. 

As part of the investigation in the Southern District of Florida, on October 14, 2011, a search of a storage facility in Florida recovered pharmaceuticals that had been stolen from the Enfield warehouse.

U.S. Attorney Fein said that the investigation is ongoing and is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Enfield Police Department. Asst. US Attorney Anastasia E. King is prosecuting the case.

Original story:

Officials from the US Attorney's Office, the FBI and the Enfield Police Department are about to unveil details of their investigation into the theft of $80 million worth of eight different types of prescription drugs from the Eli Lilly Co. distribution center.

The officials have called a 2 p.m. press conference at U.S. Attorney's Office in New Haven. Further details have not been made available as of yet, except that the individuals who are being charged in the theft will not appear in court today.

According to the Hartford Courant, the March 14, 2010 theft was one of the largest of several burglaries that occurred at around the same time.

The thieves gained access to the warehouse by cutting a hole in the roof and using ropes to drop down into the building, according to the Courant.

At the time, Lilly officials said that they would work closely with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. They also said that because of the strict regulation of pharmaceuticals in the country it would be “extremely difficult for stolen product to make it to patients through legitimate channels.”

Examples of the drugs taken include Cymbalta and Prozac.


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