Man gets 25 years for violent last-mile robberies

So-called last-mile robberies are one of the newer threats to the U.S. pharma supply chain, and one that often involves violence. Criminals, sometimes armed with guns, intercept delivery vehicles and steal their cargo. A Maryland man is now headed to prison for his part in four of these violent attacks.

According to the FDA, Robert Neil Sampson, 53, of Lanham, MD, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to robbery and attempted robbery. Sampson was one of a gang of men who intercepted trucks operated by two courier companies, Accurate Courier Express and The Courier Connection, that were delivering pharmaceuticals in the Washington, DC, area on behalf of AmerisourceBergen. The gang got away with drugs with an estimated value of between $250,000 and $400,000.

On four occasions in 2012, Sampson and others either entered a warehouse or blocked a delivery truck and confronted the driver with a gun. In one case, a driver was tasered, his hands and feet zip-tied and he was rolled down a steep embankment. Authorities said he had to be hospitalized and still suffers from hand injuries. Sampson was seen on a security camera video from one of the robberies and also tied to it by a fingerprint, the FDA said.

In 2012, the Pharmaceutical Cargo Security Coalition put together a task force from the 10 largest wholesalers to look for ways to address the growing problem, which had spiked that year. The attacks often involve violence because robbers are confronting drivers instead of stealing an unattended rig. The coalition said that the last-mile delivery trucks are easy prey because they are not difficult to spot and their routes are easily determined.

The conviction comes as authorities have also been imprisoning some members of a gang who were responsible for a series of high-profile warehouse burglaries in 2010. Those thefts included a daring burglary of about $50 million worth of drugs from an Eli Lilly ($LLY) warehouse in Connecticut.

- read the release