In June of last year, Supply Chain Matters featured a commentary noting that cargo and retail theft remains a significant supply chain challenge.  Our commentary re-iterated how thieves, half of which stem from organized crime rings, exploit any and all weak links in distribution and transport aspects of supply chains to seize goods.

One of the largest cargo thefts in U.S. history occurred in March 2010 and involved the theft of $76 million worth of pharmaceuticals from an Eli Lilly warehouse in Enfield Connecticut. This week, federal authorities arrested two people in connection with the Eli Lilly incident.  According to an article printed in The Wall Street Journal (paid subscription or free metered view), the arrest was described as a takedown of a major theft ring. Two Cuban born brothers were indicted on federal conspiracy and theft charges and ten additional persons were also charged in federal court. The U.S. attorney in Connecticut is quoted as indicating that a prolific cargo theft ring has been dismantled as a result of the investigation and subsequent arrests.  Most of the stolen drugs were reported to be recovered.

Since this incident, pharmaceutical companies have undertaken strong preventative measures to secure drugs in the supply chain. These include installation of video cameras in warehouses, requiring multiple drivers on tractor trailer movements along with other measures.  The industry should be commended for its actions.  At the same time, however, the WSJ article also reminds readers that while stepped-up measures have occurred, incidents continue, including a $10.9 million tractor trailer theft of blood thinner drugs that was hijacked from a tractor trailer parked at a Kentucky rest area last November.

Our 2012 Predictions for Global Supply Chains, available for complimentary download in our Research Center,  included predicted stepped-up efforts to mitigate cargo theft and unscrupulous activities across global supply chains.  Arrests associated with one of the largest thefts of pharmaceuticals recorded in the U.S. should hopefully be an important reminder of the needs to continue preventive measures and remain diligent.