Drug Heist Nets $75M In Meds Thieves in Enfield, Conn., stole $75 million worth of anti-depressants and anti-psychotic drugs from a warehouse belonging to the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly. Stephanie Reitz, a reporter with The Associated Press, says the drugs could end up overseas or in the legitimate drug market.
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Drug Heist Nets $75M In Meds

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Drug Heist Nets $75M In Meds

Drug Heist Nets $75M In Meds

Drug Heist Nets $75M In Meds

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/124783783/124784716" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Thieves in Enfield, Conn., stole $75 million worth of anti-depressants and anti-psychotic drugs from a warehouse belonging to the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly. Stephanie Reitz, a reporter with The Associated Press, says the drugs could end up overseas or in the legitimate drug market.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Sometime this past Sunday in Enfield, Connecticut, thieves pulled off a theft so big and so daring it merits that rare noun, heist. In fact, this one may even quality for that still-rarer label, caper - the Great Connecticut Prozac Caper.

It involves an Eli Lilly warehouse and a haul of Prozac and Cymbalta - both antidepressants - and the antipsychotic medication Zyprexa, enough drugs to improve the outlook of a huge mob of depressives; the company says $75 million worth. And joining us from Hartford, Connecticut, is Stephanie Reitz, a reporter with the Associated Press. Stephanie Reitz, how did they do it?

Ms. STEPHANIE REITZ (Reporter, Associated Press): Well, it was pretty Hollywood-style. According to the police, one or more people, probably more people based on the amount taken, came to this warehouse in the dead of night, in the middle of a storm, daylight savings time, one extra hour of darkness. They scaled the outside wall, cut a hole through the ceiling, rappelled in on a rope, disabled the security alarms, and spent the next hour or two loading pallets of drugs, one after the other, into a waiting truck out of the loading dock door.

They've said there were enough drugs taken to easily fill at least a tractor-trailer.

SIEGEL: So they literally made off with a truckload of prescription drugs.

Ms. REITZ: Absolutely.

SIEGEL: Now, the gangland vocabulary sounds a little ill-fitting here, but how does one fence prescription drugs, antidepressants and psychotic medications with, I gather, $75 million wholesale - who knows what the street value of those drugs are?

Ms. REITZ: Yeah, we've spoken with some experts about that, and what they've all said is generally, people do not make these sorts of heists, I guess you could call it that, on their own whims. They don't just say oh, let's go in there and see who's going to buy this. Quite often, they're going in with a buyer in mind, or somebody has commissioned them and said, if you can get X amount of Prozac, we can get it out of your hands, and it's going to be worth your while.

Often, it'll end up overseas. Sometimes, it's gone back into the legitimate market stream if there's an unscrupulous wholesaler that then resells it to someone who thinks they're getting it legitimately and puts it back out into where you and I would get it.

SIEGEL: By the way, do you have any idea if prescription drugs are identifiable by lot numbers? I mean, would somebody who buys some discounted Cymbalta in the coming months, say online, would be able to tell if it came from Enfield?

Ms. REITZ: Well, I suppose it would depend if that buyer would actually know what the lot number was. The FDA does put out alerts that says these particular drugs with these particular lot numbers are missing, don't buy them, don't circulate them, let us know if you see them. But if you were to get 10 or 12 pallets of these, however they're packaged, and then you repackage them in your own way, you know, one Prozac probably looks pretty much like the next to anybody who's buying it, say, online or bringing it in from some other country.

SIEGEL: And which law-enforcement agency is on the case?

Ms. REITZ: The Enfield Police is the primary law-enforcement agency right now. They have two detectives full-time working on this case. They're working with the FBI - which, you know, certainly they're going to have a huge role in this because there are so national connections. And whether these folks are part of a broader ring is going to be a question. I think one could fairly assume this is probably not their first time, but who knows? If so, they had some good beginner's luck.

SIEGEL: Well, thanks for talking with us about it.

Ms. REITZ: Thank you.

SIEGEL: That's Stephanie Reitz, reporter for the Associated Press, speaking to us from Hartford, Connecticut.

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