The Largest Pharmaceutical Drug Heist in History Was Ruined By a Water Bottle

Illustration for article titled The Largest Pharmaceutical Drug Heist in History Was Ruined By a Water Bottle

Amaury Villa and Amed Villa, two brothers from Cuba, have been arrested for stealing $80 million worth of pharmaceutical drugs in Connecticut in a sophisticated scheme that evokes The Italian Job and Ocean's 11. It's the largest pharmaceutical drug heist in history, and it was all brought down because one of the brothers left a water bottle at the scene.

The drugs they stole were impressive and far-ranging:

  • Prozac
  • Gemzar, a chemotherapy drug for lung cancer
  • Zyprexa, an antipsychotic used for bipolar disorder
  • Cymbalta, used for anxiety disorders

This isn't their first dance at the ball of thieves either; Amaury is already charged with other instances of stolen drugs in Florida and Virginia while Amed faces the law's wrath for stealing 3,500 cases of cigarettes worth more than $8 million in Illinois. The Villa brothers, who were both living in Miami at the time of their arrest, are stone cold professionals.


Law enforcement officials say the two brothers had been planning and plotting the $80 million pharma theft for months, going so far as to lease a tractor-trailer to load the 49 pallets of drugs they planned to steal. Their whole scheme actually reads like a glorified crime novel: They carved a hole in the roof of the drug warehouse, rappelled into the building, disabled all the alarms, forklifted the pallets of drugs into their big rig and then fled to South Beach.

What's most amazing is that all this happened two years ago! The brothers probably thought they evaded the law, smoking Cubans, toasting to the beauty of microscopic bikinis and hanging out with LeBron. But Amed ruined it all. The cops found a water bottle on the scene of the crime that Amed had touched and used the evidence to connect the dots, that Amaury had flown into New York and rented a car to check out the warehouse months before, that lease agreements on tractor-trailers were made, that hotels were booked, that they flew back to Miami and created their own warehouse filled with the $80 million of stolen pills.

The black market of pharmaceutical drugs is a swarmy and borderline-awful place. I mean, who steals chemotherapy drugs and bipolar pills? To what end? Judging by the street prices of prescription drugs on Street RX, slanging pill by pill seems like thankless work. So were they going to sell these pills to hospitals in other countries or were they just exploiting cancer? Either way, thank goodness the biggest criminals are also very often the dumbest. [NBC Connecticut]

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How does a water bottle on the scene of the crime allow the police to 'connect the dots'? DNA evidence? Fingerprints? Was his name on it?