Cuban immigrant gets 6 years for theft of Lilly drugs

A Cuban immigrant was sentenced Wednesday to more than six years in prison for his role in the 2010 nighttime heist of a Connecticut warehouse in which the robbers filled a tractor-trailer with more than $50 million worth of Eli Lilly and Co. pharmaceuticals.

Yosmany "El Gato" Nunez, the first of five defendants to be sentenced in the case, also faces a deportation order. Although the prospect of his forcible return to the Caribbean island may have seemed remote at the time he pleaded guilty in November, the U.S. and Cuba have since taken steps toward normalizing relations.

His attorneys pointed out the increased likelihood of deportation in a court filing that said Nunez, 42, came to the United States in 1999 on a homemade raft and has close relationships with his two children in the U.S.

"He began to work construction and described the United States as 'glorious,'" his attorneys wrote.

The robbers traveled from Florida and broke into the Eli Lilly warehouse by cutting a hole in the roof, disabled the alarm system and used warehouse forklifts to load pallets of pharmaceuticals into the truck to bring them back to Miami, according to prosecutors. The drugs — including Zyprexa, Cymbalta and Prozac — had a wholesale value between $50 million and $100 million.

Nunez, who pleaded guilty to one count of transportation of stolen property, was sentenced in federal court in New Haven to six years and three months in prison.

Prosecutors said he has a history of involvement in cargo theft, including a federal conviction in 2001. He also has two prior offenses in Florida that led to six months of county jail time for crimes that his lawyers described as the result of his struggles with alcohol abuse. His status as a legal U.S. resident was revoked and was subject to a deportation order but, as a Cuban citizen, he remained in the U.S.

Four other defendants have pleaded guilty in the Lilly heist.

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