Heist nets $75 million in Eli Lilly drugs

By chillinwill · Mar 19, 2010 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    Police are investigating an over-the-weekend drug heist at a Connecticut warehouse filled with prescription drugs. Investigators say it appears a group of people broke into the building and stole up to $75 million worth of narcotics.

    What looks to be a large non-descript brown building back in the woods in Enfield, Connecticut is a transportation hub of sorts for prescription drug company Eli Lilly .

    The big brown building was broken into over the weekend. Someone cut a hole in the roof and repelled inside stealing somewhere between $50-$75 million worth in drugs; the largest theft in the town's history.

    "The hole was very high up and there was no way they you would be able to leap to the floor," said Police Chief Carl Sferrazza of the Enfield Police Dept. "I don't want to get into the specific evidence that we found there but we believe that is how they gain entry into the building."

    Police are still collecting evidence and trying to figure how much of what drugs were stolen; sources close to the investigation say about 70 pallets of prescriptions were taken.

    "We don't have a list of exactly what they took; there are pain killers involved; all prescription drugs -- that is the kind of narcotics that are housed there," said Chief Sferrazza.

    Police say the thieves may have gone in through the roof but they probably left out the back door at the loading docks because they needed at least one-semi tractor trailer [maybe even two] to get the drugs out. Police say these guys knew what they were doing.

    "The evidence the officers found, this does not appear that it is one or two individuals that committed this burglary; it appears to be a well-organized and large-scale operation," said Chief Sferrazza.

    Federal authorities will be meeting Tuesday morning to go over what happened and to try to figure out who committed this crime.

    Joy Dumandan
    March 15, 2010

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  1. old hippie 56
    Hollywood-style heist nets $75 million in pills

    HARTFORD, Conn. - In a Hollywood-style heist, thieves cut a hole in the roof of a warehouse, rappelled inside and scored one of the biggest hauls of its kind: not diamonds, gold bullion or Old World art, but about $75 million in antidepressants and other prescription drugs.

    The pills, stolen from pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co. in quantities big enough to fill a tractor-trailer, are believed to be destined for the black market, perhaps overseas.

    "This is like the Brink's pill heist," said Erik Gordon, a University of Michigan business professor who studies the health-care industry. "This one will enter the folklore."

    The thieves apparently scaled the brick exterior of the warehouse in an industrial park in Enfield, a town about midway between Hartford and Springfield, Mass., during a blustery rainstorm before daybreak Sunday. After lowering themselves to the floor, they disabled the alarms and spent at least an hour loading pallets of drugs into a vehicle at the loading dock, authorities said.

    "Just by the way it occurred, it appears that there were several individuals involved and that it was a very well planned-out and orchestrated operation," Enfield Police Chief Carl Sferrazza said. "It's not your run-of-the-mill home burglary, that's for sure."

    Experts described it as one of the biggest pharmaceutical heists in history.

    Edward Sagebiel, a spokesman for Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly, put the wholesale value of the drugs at $75 million and said they included the antidepressants Prozac and Cymbalta and the anti-psychotic Zyprexa. No narcotics or other painkillers were in the warehouse, he said.

    The thieves easily could net $20 million to $25 million, Gordon said.

    Enfield police would not say whether the building had surveillance video or whether employees are being investigated. The building is unmarked and unprotected by fences.

    The FBI was called in.
    Experts said the heist shared many traits with warehouse thefts of pharmaceuticals last year near Richmond, Va., Memphis, Tenn., and Olive Branch, Miss. Those thieves also cut through ceilings and sometimes used trapeze-style rigging to get inside and disable the main and backup alarms. In some cases, they sprayed dark paint on the lenses of security cameras; in others, they stole disks in the security recording devices.
    Enfield police and the FBI would not comment on whether some of those techniques were also used in the Eli Lilly theft.

    Stolen drugs have made it into the U.S. health-care system, often through Internet suppliers or crooked wholesalers.

    In June, thieves stole 129,000 vials of insulin in North Carolina. The drugs were not properly refrigerated, and later surfaced at a medical center in Houston. The Food and Drug Administration said in August that some patients suffered unsafe blood-sugar levels after using them and that it had recovered just 2 percent of the stolen insulin.

    Pharmaceuticals made up 5 percent of commodities thefts in 2009 in the U.S. The average such heist was worth about $2.5 million, according to FreightWatch International, a Texas-based security company.

    by Stephanie Reitz - Mar. 17, 2010 12:00 AM
    Associated Press
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