New Arrests in Largest Theft in Connecticut History

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    NBCConnecticut.com
    Several men are charged in connection with the 2010 heist of $80 million of prescription drugs from this Eli Lilly facility in Enfield.

    Federal authorities have charged three more Florida men in the theft of about $80 million in prescription drugs from a warehouse in Connecticut in 2010.

    The U.S. Attorney's office said Tuesday that Yosmany Nunez of Southwest Ranches, Alexander Marquez of Hialeah and Rafael Lopez of Miami were indicted on conspiracy and theft charges for their alleged participation in the theft from an Eli Lilly & Co. warehouse in Enfield.

    An attorney for Lopez says the evidence will show he's innocent. An attorney for Nunez declined comment. A message was left for Marquez's lawyer.

    Amed Villa of Miami pleaded guilty last year to theft and conspiracy charges stemming from his participation in the theft. His brother, Amaury, pleaded not guilty in Connecticut and is awaiting trial.

    The Eli Lilly heist is believed to be the largest theft in Connecticut's history.

    “We are very happy with what happened,” said Enfield Police Chief Carl Sferrazza.

    He was relieved to hear about the arrests. He was part of the initial investigation that could have come from a Hollywood movie.

    “The largest theft we've ever had not only in Enfield but probably the largest pharmaceutical theft the country has ever seen,” Chief Sferrazza explained.

    A water bottle Amed allegedly left behind at the scene apparently helped lead officials to the suspects, U.S. Attorney David Fein said after the initial arrests.

    The men are accused of participating in the conspiracy to steal theft millions in drugs, including Gemzar, a chemotherapy drug used to treat lung cancer; Zyprexa, a depressant and antipsychotic used to treat bipolar disorder; Prozac, Eli Lilly's first billion-dollar drug and the company's top seller before it lost patent protection several years ago; and Cymbalta, which is used to treat anxiety disorders.

    Federal officials said the Villa brothers staked out the Eli Lilly warehouse in January 2010, when Amaury flew into LaGuardia, rented a car and drove to Windsor, where he was caught on surveillance looking into the Eli Lilly facility. The next day, he returned to Miami.

    Then, in February, 2010, one of Amaury's associates received an email with lease agreements for two tractor-trailers, Fein said.

    On March 12, 2010, the day before the heist, Amaury flew back to New York and checked into a hotel in Windsor.

    The break-in happened after 10 p.m. on March 13, 2010, as Enfield caught the edges of a nor'easter that battered the region with heavy rain and wind.

    Authorities said the thieves bought tools at a Home Depot in Flushing, New York to cut through the ceiling and rappelled inside and disarmed the alarms.

    Over the next five hours, Amed and others used a forklift inside the facility to lift boxes, 49 pallets, and load them into a tractor-trailer, according to prosecutors.

    At 3:40 a.m., they left the facility.

    Despite the elaborate efforts to skirt security, Amed touched a water bottle while there and left it behind, federal authorities said.

    Whether a fingerprint, DNA or something presented the link to Amed is something that is not yet clear.

    In addition to the water bottle, surveillance video picked up the brothers. There were also documents linking the men to rental cars and leases.

    Later on the day of the heist, Amaury checked out of a hotel in Windsor and later returned to Miami, Fein said. Between July and October 2011, Amaury brokered the sale of drugs to someone who was selling them to someone else who was planning to ship them out of the country, where police could not find them, according to court documents.

    It was during this stretch of time that FBI agents found the group of public storage warehouses in which Amaury was storing the stolen drugs, according to officials.

    On Oct. 14, 2011, authorities found more than 3,000 boxes of medicine, which filled a 53-foot trailer, in a storage facility in Doral, Florida. The estimated value of the pharmaceuticals was about $80 million.

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