Miami brothers Amaury and Amed Villa have been charged with one of the biggest thefts ever in the United States.
According to indictments unsealed earlier today, the Villas stole $80 million worth of prescription drugs from an Eli Lilly warehouse in Enfield, Connecticut back in March of 2010. The duo allegedly scaled a warehouse wall, cut a hole in the ceiling, slid down ropes, disabled alarms, loaded giant pallets of precious drugs onto rented semi-trucks, and hauled them down to Florida to sell. Feds say it was the biggest robbery in Connecticut history and the biggest prescription drug ripoff in American history.
Holy crap. Who knew Miamians were capable of such Italian Job-like capers?
The two brothers were indicted in New Haven, Conn. on March 12 for the theft, but the order was kept secret until a Florida indictment was announced today.
Amaury Villa, the younger of the two brothers, is also named in the Florida indictment for allegedly selling the massive load of anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, and cancer-fighting drugs. Ten other individuals were charged with selling or distributing the drugs across Florida.
The two men apparently cased the Connecticut warehouse for several months, according to the Hartford Courant (which also has a great graphic showing how the warehouse was broken into). At around 10:30 p.m. on March 13, 2010, the Villas used tools purchased from a Home Depot to slice through the warehouse's ceiling.
Then they allegedly dropped into the building on ropes and disabled its alarms. While loading pallets of Zyprexa, Prozac and Gemzar onto semis, however, Amed Villa left a fingerprint on a bottle of water.
The two men were not caught for years. According to the Florida indictment, Amaury Villa sold some of the drugs in Miami as recently as this past October.
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Feds say the crack-down -- called Operation Southern Hospitality -- disabled a major criminal organization that had its headquarters in Miami.
"This investigation represents the largest takedown in U.S. history involving cargo theft," said John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge for FBI Miami, in a press release. "Today's arrests have dealt a major blow to this Miami-based criminal organization. Cargo theft is a growing multi-billion dollar crime that significantly impacts consumers, local governments, manufacturers and shipping companies."
"Whether through rouge pill mills or stolen pharmaceuticals, the prescription abuse problem we face in Florida is still significant," said DEA Miami Special Agent in Charge Mark R. Trouville.