Pharmaceuticals stolen in $76m warehouse raid recovered

Warehouse securityEnforcement officials in the USA have recovered all of the $76m-worth of pharmaceutical products stolen in a raid on an Eli Lilly distribution centre in Enfield, Connecticut, in March 2010, making 11 arrests.

The notorious raid was notable not only for the value of the good seized but also the sophistication of the attack, with the perpetrators disabling phone lines, cutting a hole in the roof and rappelling down inside to gain access to the telecommunications room, where they disabled the alarm and access control systems.

A joint operation by the local police department, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Justice officials and the Miami Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force resulted in the recovery of the missing goods from a warehouse in Doral, Florida, in October 2011, according to just-released information.

Two Cubans - Amaury and Ahmed Villa - as well as nine other people have been taken into custody. The two brothers have been charged with participating in the theft of the medicines, which included antidepressants Prozac (fluoxetine) and Cymbalta (duloxetine) as well as schizophrenia treatment Zyprexa (olanzapine), as well as involvement in a scheme to sell on the drugs.

They are suspected of involvement in a nationwide theft ring targeting warehouses, with other cases including the theft of $8m-worth of cigarettes from a facility in Illinois in January 2010. It is speculated they were linked to the Enfield theft after one of the brothers - who both have prior criminal records - left a fingerprint on a bottle of water at the scene.

"We believe that a prolific cargo theft ring has been dismantled," said US Attorney David Fein of Hartford, Connecticut, in a statement.

Lilly applauded the development, with Maria Crowe, president of manufacturing operations at the company, noting that "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."

The products taken from the warehouse have been prevented from entering pharmaceutical distribution channels, said the firm, which plans to destroy them when they are no longer needed as evidence.

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