Rafael Lopez, 50, a citizen of Cuba residing in Miami, FL pleaded guilty on Tuesday in New Haven federal court to stealing pharmaceuticals from an Eli Lilly Company warehouse and storage facility in Enfield.
The plea was announced on Tuesday by US Attorney for the District of Connecticut.
In early 2010, four men — Amaury Villa, Amed Villa, Yosmany Nunez and Alexander Marquez — planned to steal pharmaceuticals from the Eli Lilly storage facility.
The investigation revealed that, in March 2010, Lopez agreed to drive Amed Villa from Florida to Connecticut and back as Amed Villa did not possess a driver’s license.
Prior to the theft, Lopez rented a hotel room for himself and Amed Villa in Flushing, NY. In Flushing, Lopez accompanied Amed Villa to a Home Depot where they purchased approximately $757 worth of tools with cash. They then traveled to Connecticut
In the evening of March 13, 2010, individuals involved in the theft dropped off a ladder in the rear parking lot of the warehouse facility and left. That same night, Marquez drove a tractor trailer to the facility. Thereafter, Amed Villa and Amaury Villa carried the ladder to the building and checked for security in the front area. From there the Villas climbed onto the roof and used the tools purchased from Home Depot to cut a hole in the roof and drop down into the facility and disabled the alarm system.
Amaury Villa, Amed Villa and Nunez then loaded more than 40 pallets of pharmaceuticals into the tractor trailer, which had been backed up to the warehouse loading dock.
The pallets of pharmaceuticals included thousands of boxes Zyprexa, Cymbalta, Prozac, Gemzar and other medicines, valued between $50 and $100 million.
Lopez waited outside the warehouse during the burglary and, several times, contacted Amed Villa and Amaury Villa by phone to ask what was taking so long.
After the theft, the participants split up in Connecticut and Marquez drove the tractor trailer to Florida. As LOPEZ drove Amed Villa back to Florida, he was told that Amed Villa and Amaury Villa had stolen a tractor trailer truck.
Certain individuals involved in the theft reunited in Florida so the stolen pharmaceuticals could be transferred from the tractor trailer into self-storage units in the Miami area.
On October 14, 2011, law enforcement authorities searched a storage facility in Florida and recovered pharmaceuticals that had been stolen from the Enfield warehouse.
LOPEZ, who was arrested on April 21, 2014, pleaded guilty today to one count of misprision of a felon, admitting that he was aware of the theft from the Eli Lilly warehouse and that the stolen property was transported across state lines, and that he not only failed to report the offense to the authorities, but took steps to conceal it.
LOPEZ is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arteron on February 18, 2015, at which time he faces a maximum term of imprisonment of three years. He currently is released on bond.
Amaury Villa, Amed Villa, Nunez and Marquez have all pleaded guilty to various charges and await sentencing.
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Enfield Police Department, with the assistance of several other U.S. Attorney’s Offices and federal, state and local law enforcement agencies that have been investigating large-scale thefts of pharmaceuticals and other products.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anastasia E. King and Douglas P. Morabito.