Brothers Charged for Biggest-Ever Rx Drug Heist

By McCarton Ackerman 05/04/12

An ingenious $80-million warehouse break-in was traced because of carelessness with a water bottle.

The warehouse, and its conveniently flat roof.
Photo via

The largest theft of prescription drugs in US history unraveled—because of a water bottle. Miami brothers Amaury Villa, 37, and Amed Villa, 46, have been arrested and charged in connection with a March 2010 warehouse theft in Connecticut that involved making off with an incredible $80-million worth of drugs for psychiatric and cancer treatment. The brothers allegedly used tools purchased from a Home Depot to drill a hole in the roof and disable the security system, before lowering themselves through the hole and  into the warehouse using ropes; a forklift was then used to load the drugs into a truck. But burglary is thirsty work; at some point in the operation, Amed apparently touched a water bottle that was later discovered in the warehouse, leaving behind either fingerprints or DNA (cops won't yet say which). The brothers were indicted in federal court in New Haven on conspiracy and theft charges, while several others were indicted in Miami in the theft. “For several years now, cargo theft in the pharmaceutical sector has been on the rise, exacting a terrible cost on the industry and danger to the public,” said David B. Fein, the US attorney for Connecticut. “Today’s arrests are an important step in ensuring the integrity of our drug supply chain.” The brothers have previous charges against them, including the theft of 3,500 cases of cigarettes.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.