In 2010, Amed Villa was part of a brassy warehouse heist that stunned the industry. Villa and others broke into an Eli Lilly ($LLY) warehouse in Connecticut and drove away in the middle of the night with about $90 million worth of Lilly drugs. But Villa now acknowledges he had practice ripping off drug companies.
The Cuban citizen pleaded guilty to the Lilly burglary in July. But Monday, Villa also admitted to stealing more than $13.3 million worth of inhalers from a GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) warehouse in Colonial Heights, VA, the year before, according to a CBS New York report. He also pleaded guilty to stealing about $10 million worth of cell phones and cigarettes in two other burglaries in other states. DNA found on water bottles left at the Lilly and Glaxo scenes linked Amed Villa to both of those crimes.
The 49-year-old Villa is slated to be sentenced Dec. 4 and faces up to 60 years in prison. His brother, Amaury Villa, has pleaded not guilty to the Lilly burglary but earlier pleaded guilty to possessing drugs stolen from the warehouse and was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison. He is appealing the sentence. When the feds made the arrests in May 2012, they rounded up 23 suspects they claim had been part of different burglaries around the country. They also recovered most of the stolen drugs.
The details of the Eli Lilly heist were like something out of "Ocean's Eleven." The thieves dismantled the alarm, rappelled through a skylight and then used a warehouse forklift to load pallets of drugs onto a semi. Drugs taken included Lilly's schizophrenia drug Zyprexa, its antidepressant Prozac and the cancer drug Gemzar. Then they drove away.
A lawsuit last year suggests that they may have even had a script of sorts--documents that showed them every vulnerability. The allegations were made in a lawsuit by National Union Fire Insurance Co., which got hit hard for losses. It filed a lawsuit against ADT Security and its former parent, Tyco Integrated Security. It says the thieves knew everything from where the alarm control room was located to which delivery bay they could safely park their get-away rig in without being seen. And it was not as if the Lilly facility was left unlocked with the welcome mat out. It had 13 cameras inside as well as motion detectors and an alarm system.
The Lilly, GSK burglaries and others were a wake-up call to the industry. Companies formed the Pharmaceutical Cargo Security Coalition, educating their peers about dangers and protections. The result has been that pharmaceuticals dropped from being one of the biggest cargo theft targets to being one of the least likely to be stolen. That is not to say the industry is not still vulnerable. More recently there has been a spate of so-called last-mile thefts, where robbers looking for controlled substances hit trucks delivering drugs to pharmacies. There have been 29 last-mile thefts this year, compared to just 12 in all of 2012.
- read the CBS New York story