South Florida men go to prison for $2.2M Mucinex heist

Three members of a gang that for years made South Florida one of the most dangerous spots for cargo theft in the country are going to federal prison for their part in a scheme to steal and resell $2.2 million worth of the cold medicine Mucinex and $500,000 worth of baby formula off tractor-trailers.

According to the FDA, after previously pleading guilty, Jorge Nimer Rolo, 48, was sentenced to 108 months; Lazaro Martinez, also known as "Fat Laz," 45, was sentenced to 18 months and Antonio Ramirez, a/k/a "Tony Bodega," 54, to 24 months in prison.

Federal authorities said Rolo was a broker who financed schemes to steal a whole range of products in South Florida, including computers and lingerie, and then resell it. The other two were brokers who resold stolen goods, including the cold medicine and baby formula, which was stolen en route to Wal-Mart and Target. Martinez was a co-owner of Tadeo Supermarket in Miami and sold some of the stolen merchandise there. The FDA said 5 other men have already been convicted and sentenced for their parts in the scheme.

A host of Miami-area men who worked together were tied to the daring theft of at least $50 million drugs from an Eli Lilly ($LLY) warehouse in Connecticut in 2010. Some were tied to the theft of more than $13 million in drugs from a GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) warehouse in Colonial Heights, VA, the year before. Authorities rounded up 22 suspects in 2012 that they believed were tied to those and other crimes.

A lawsuit filed in relation to the Lilly theft suggested the men had gotten their hands on detailed risk-assessment documents about the warehouse. The details of the Eli Lilly heist were like something out of "Ocean's Eleven." The thieves disarmed the alarm, rappelled through a skylight and used a warehouse forklift to load pallets of drugs onto a semi. They even knew which bay to park the truck in to avoid detection. Drugs taken included Lilly's schizophrenia drug Zyprexa, its antidepressant Prozac and the cancer drug Gemzar. Then they drove away.

Charles Forsaith of Purdue Pharma Technologies, who was coordinator of the Pharmaceutical Cargo Security Coalition at the time the men were arrested, said that for awhile it appeared the very organized gang working out of South Florida had a "shopping list, and they would target a particular company or a particular site."

- here's the release