Man behind Lilly warehouse burglary pleads guilty

Amed Villa (Enfield PD)A Miami man accused of involvement in the burglary of a warehouse operated by drugmaker Eli Lilly in 2010 has pleaded guilty to the charges.

Cuba-born Amed Villa confessed to his role in the heist at Lilly's facility in Enfield, Connecticut, in which some $90m-worth of pharmaceuticals were taken. He also pleaded guilty to other offences including the theft of $8m of cigarettes from an Illinois warehouse in the same year.

During the raid Villa and a co-conspirator disabled phone lines, cut a hole in the roof and rappelled down inside the warehouse to gain access to the telecommunications room, where they disabled the alarm and access control systems.

Thereafter, Villa and other gang members loaded approximately 53 pallets of pharmaceuticals into the tractor trailer, which they had backed up to the loading dock of the facility. A similar modus operandi was used in the tobacco theft.

The stolen goods - which included thousands of boxes of antipsychotic drug  Zyprexa (olanzapine), Cymbalta (duloxetine), antidepressant Prozac (fluoxetine), and cancer drug Gemzar (gemcitabine) as well as other medicines - were eventually recovered by police and federal agents in 2012.

Villa has been detained since his arrest on May 3, 2012, which came after his DNA was recovered from a water bottle found at the scene.

His younger brother Amaury Villa has also been charged in relation to the Lilly burglary and was sentenced to 11 years and eight months in prison for his trying to sell the stolen drugs in southern Florida.

Villa and conspirators are also suspected of involvement in the theft of $4.3m-worth of GlaxoSmithKline drugs from a facility in Virginia in 2009.

"A phenomenal amount of credit goes to law enforcement authorities for their relentless pursuit of the perpetrators of this crime," commented Chuck Forsaith of the Pharmaceutical Cargo Security Coalition (PCSC).

He also congratulated Lilly for its cooperation with authorities and intelligence sharing. "Lilly never hesitated in sharing what they could to help all of us better defend our facilities and processes," added Forsaith.

"The proof is in the statistics – no significant warehouse burglaries within pharma now three full years since."

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