Florida Resident Pleads Guilty To Role In $90 Million Pharmaceutical Theft From Connecticut Warehouse
Deirdre M. Daly, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Kimberly K. Mertz, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced that AMED VILLA, 48, a citizen of Cuba last residing in Miami, Fla., pleaded guilty today to federal charges stemming from his participation in the theft of approximately $90 million in pharmaceuticals from a warehouse in Enfield, Conn., and $8 million in cigarettes from a warehouse in Illinois.
“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 cooperative investigative efforts in dismantling a prolific cargo theft ring,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Daly.
“Today’s guilty plea is the result of a most exhaustive and far-reaching investigation, highlighted by exemplary teamwork among our federal, state and local partners,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Mertz. “Complex investigations involving multiple agencies and jurisdictions are often difficult because they require an especially organized and coordinated effort in order to bring those responsible for crimes to justice. The tremendous investigative and prosecutive effort in this matter is evident by Villa’s guilty plea.”
According to court documents and statements made in court, between January and March 2010, VILLA and others conspired to steal pharmaceuticals from the Eli Lilly Company warehouse and storage facility in Enfield, Conn. The investigation revealed that, in early 2010, members of the conspiracy traveled from the Miami area to Connecticut to gather information about the warehouse facility and the surrounding area. Shortly before the theft, VILLA and another individual drove from Florida to Flushing, N.Y., where they purchased tools needed to break into the warehouse facility, and then traveled to Connecticut.
In the evening of March 13, 2010, VILLA and others traveled in a tractor trailer to the parking lot of the Eli Lilly warehouse facility, dropped off a ladder and left. Later that evening, VILLA and a co-conspirator carried the ladder to the facility, checked for security in the front area, climbed onto the roof, used the tools to cut a hole in the facility roof, dropped down into the facility and disabled the alarm system. Thereafter, VILLA and others loaded approximately 53 pallets of pharmaceuticals into the tractor trailer, which they had backed up to the loading dock of the facility.
The pallets of pharmaceuticals included thousands of boxes Zyprexa, Cymbalta, Prozac, Gemzar and other medicines, valued at approximately $90 million.
Once the conspirators returned to Miami, they packed the pharmaceuticals into moving boxes and stored them in self-storage units in the Miami area.
As part of the investigation, on October 14, 2011, law enforcement authorities searched a storage facility in Florida and recovered pharmaceuticals that had been stolen from the Enfield warehouse.
VILLA also pleaded guilty to a federal theft charge from the Central District of Illinois, admitting that, on January 24, 2010, he and others stole approximately 3,512 cases of cigarettes and a cargo trailer from a warehouse in East Peoria, Ill. During this theft, the warehouse was accessed by a hole cut in the roof and the security system was bypassed. A ladder and tools were discovered near the hole in the roof. In addition, a water bottle was recovered from the floor inside the warehouse. Analysis of DNA found on the water bottle revealed that the DNA profile was consistent with VILLA. The DNA profile also matched DNA recovered during the investigation of the Eli Lilly warehouse theft.
VILLA pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit theft from an interstate shipment and two counts of theft from an interstate shipment. When he is sentenced, VILLA faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 25 years.
VILLA has been detained since his arrest on May 3, 2012.
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 investigation of the warehouse theft in East Peoria was led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the East Peoria Police Department.
This case is being prosecuted in the District of Connecticut by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anastasia E. King, with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorney K. Tate Chambers of the Central District of Illinois.
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