Inside Logistics

Guilty plea in US$90 million drug warehouse theft

Thieves scaled a wall and cut a hole through roof


July 2, 2013
by The Associated Press

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut—A man accused in the theft of about US$90 million in prescription drugs from a warehouse, believed to be the largest theft in state history, pleaded guilty on Monday.

Thieves broke into the Enfield warehouse of pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly & Co in 2010 by scaling an exterior wall and cutting a hole in the roof. They lowered themselves to the floor and disabled alarms before using a forklift to load pallets of drugs into a getaway vehicle.

Amed Villa, a Cuban citizen who lived in Miami, pleaded guilty to federal theft and conspiracy charges stemming from his participation in the theft, the US attorney’s office said.

The stolen drugs, which included antidepressants, anti-psychotics and a chemotherapy drug used to treat lung cancer, were recovered last year from a storage facility in Florida, authorities said. Villa touched a water bottle that had been stored within the warehouse and left the bottle inside the warehouse when he fled, prosecutors said.

Villa, whose sentencing date has not been set, faces up to 25 years in prison, prosecutors said.

Villa and his brother Amaury Villa, also a Cuban citizen who had been living in Miami, were arrested last year in Florida on theft and conspiracy charges alleging they participated in the theft.

Amed Villa also pleaded guilty to a theft charge related to about US$8 million worth of cigarettes from a warehouse in Illinois in 2010. He plans to plead guilty to warehouse theft charges in Kentucky, Virginia and Florida, said his attorney, Jonathan Einhorn.

Einhorn said he preferred to have Villa sentenced for all the cases in Connecticut rather than face different judges in different states.

Acting US Attorney Deirdre Daly said: “The Eli Lilly theft is reportedly the largest in Connecticut history, and I commend the FBI in New Haven and the Enfield Police Department, as well as our counterparts in the Central District of Illinois and other jurisdictions, for their co-operative investigative efforts in dismantling a prolific cargo theft ring.”

Amaury Villa has pleaded not guilty in Connecticut. He pleaded guilty in Florida last year to possessing drugs stolen from the warehouse and was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison.

His attorney, Maria Elena Perez, who did not represent him in the Florida case, has said she’s appealing the sentence and other issues in that case.

Eli Lilly, whose products include Cymbalta and Cialis, is based in Indianapolis.