NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It is being described as the largest pharmaceutical theft case in U.S. history. Eleven suspects are in federal custody and a 12th is still at large.

The million-dollar bust began with an investigation by FBI agents in Newark, but the big prescription drug bust stretches up and down the East Coast, CBS 2’s Dana Tyler reported.

Federal and local authorities said that a band of thieves broke into the warehouse of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly in Enfield, Connecticut in October of 2010, disabling a burglar alarm and carting away a truckload of medications.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell Reports

The value of the heist is up to $80 million dollars.

“They stole Gemzar, a chemotherapy drug used to treat lung cancer,” David B. Fein, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, said, “and Zyprexa, an anti-depressant or anti-psychotic drug used to treat bipolar-related disorders.”

The Connecticut robbery shared traits with warehouse thefts of pharmaceuticals in Richmond, Virginia. Authorities there released surveillance photos of two suspects who scaled the walls of a warehouse owned by another giant drug-maker, GlaxoSmithKline, last August.

“I can’t stress enough the importance of maintaining the integrity of our drug supply chain,” Fein said. “Stolen drugs pose a clear threat to public health, and today’s arrests are an important step in ensuring the integrity of our drug supply chain.”

The stolen drugs were believed to be headed to the black market.

CBS 2 has been told that other stolen drugs not seized by the FBI could be out on the open market, and could be tainted, mislabeled or expired.

What do you make of this heist? How did the alleged thieves manage to get away with it? Offer your thoughts and comments below…

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