Miami Man Pleads Guilty to Stealing More Than $20 Million in Goods From Warehouses in 3 States

Amed Villa is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 4

By John Christoffersen
|  Tuesday, Sep 10, 2013  |  Updated 2:07 AM EDT
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Eli Lilly Heist Suspect  Arraigned

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Amed Villa

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Water Bottle Leads to Suspect in Biggest Drug Heist in History

Investigators have arrested two brothers from Cuba in a mysterious $80 million drug caper that included an elaborate scheme complete with repelling rope and disabling the alarm system. FBI Special Agent in Charge John Gillies and U.S. Attorney David Fein talk about the case.

Eli Lilly Heist Suspect Arraigned

One of two brothers from Cuba accused of committing a $80 million drug caper that included an elaborate scheme of rappelling into a warehouse and disabling the alarm system was arraigned on Tuesday.Amaury Villa and his older brother, Amed Villa, citizens of Cuba who had both been living in Miami, have been charged in connection with the largest pharmaceutical heist in U.S. history, as well as the biggest theft in Enfield and state history.
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A Miami man who helped carry out the theft of about $90 million in prescription drugs from a warehouse in Connecticut pleaded guilty Monday to similar thefts in Florida, Kentucky and Virginia.

Amed Villa, who entered the guilty pleas in federal court in New Haven, was charged with stealing more than $20 million worth of cigarettes, cellphones, inhalers and multimedia tablets from warehouses in the three states.

He is to be sentenced Dec. 4, and faces a maximum prison term of 60 years.

Villa, a Cuban citizen, pleaded guilty in July to theft and conspiracy charges stemming from his participation in the theft at pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly & Co. in Enfield, Conn. That month he also pleaded guilty to stealing about $8 million in cigarettes from an Illinois warehouse in 2010.

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

Thieves broke into the pharmaceutical company's Enfield warehouse in 2010 by scaling an exterior wall and cutting a hole in the roof. They lowered themselves to the floor and disabled alarms before using a forklift to load pallets of drugs into a getaway vehicle. The stolen drugs, which included antidepressants, antipsychotics and a chemotherapy drug used to treat lung cancer, were recovered last year from a storage facility in Florida, authorities said.

At the hearing Monday, Villa, 49, also admitted a role in the August 2009 theft of more than $13.3 million in pharmaceuticals from the GlaxoSmithKline warehouse in Colonial Heights, Va., the January 2011 theft of $8 million in cellular telephones and multimedia tablets from a Quality One Wireless warehouse in Orlando, Fla., and the March 2011 theft of more than $1.5 million in cigarettes from a warehouse in Leitchfield, Ky.

Villa's DNA was found on items discarded during the thefts in Connecticut, Illinois, Florida and Virginia, federal prosecutors say.

Villa and his brother Amaury Villa, also a Cuban citizen who had been living in Miami, were arrested last year in Florida on theft and conspiracy charges alleging they participated in the Connecticut theft.

Amaury Villa has pleaded not guilty in Connecticut to the Eli Lilly heist. He pleaded guilty in Florida last year to possessing drugs stolen from the warehouse and was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison. His attorney, Maria Elena Perez, who did not represent him in the Florida case, has said she's appealing the sentence and other issues in that case.

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