News and Press Releases

Three More Defendants Plead Guilty in Murder/Marijuana Grow House Conspiracy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 15, 2013

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and J.D. Patterson, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department, announce that defendants Derrick Santiesteban, Yadira Santiesteban, and Raul Fabian Ramirez, Jr., all of Miami, pled guilty today before Magistrate Judge Edwin G. Torres. Sentencing for the defendants is scheduled for April 25, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. before U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore.

Derrick Santiesteban pled guilty to Counts 1, 2 and 4 of the indictment. Count 1 charged him with conspiracy to possess one thousand (1,000) or more marijuana plants with the intent to distribute, in violation of Title 21, United States Code Section 841(a)(1), all in violation of Title 21, United States Code Section 846; Count 2 charged him with conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h); and Count 4, charged him with kidnapping, resulting in death, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1201(a)(1) and 2. At sentencing, the defendant faces a minimum mandatory term of 10 years in prison, and a maximum term of up to life imprisonment on Count 1; a maximum term of 20 years in prison on Count 2; and a mandatory term of life in prison for Count 4.

Yadira Santiesteban pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956 (h). At sentencing, she faces a maximum possible statutory sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Raul Fabian Ramirez pled guilty to Count 1 of the indictment charging him with conspiracy to possess 1,000 or more marijuana plants with the intent to distribute, in violation of Title 21, United States Code Section 841(a)(1), all in violation of Title 21, United States Code Section 846. At sentencing, the defendant faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison, and a possible maximum term of up to life in prison.

On February 4, 2013, Juan Felipe CastaƱeda, of Miami, pled guilty to Counts 1 and 3 of the indictment, charging him with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute marijuana, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C. Section 846; and with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, in violation of Title 18, U.S.C. Section 1201 (c). Sentencing is scheduled for April 25, 2013. At sentencing, the defendant faces a minimum imprisonment of 10 years and a maximum possible term of life in prison for Count 1, and a maximum term of up to life in prison for Count 3.

The other defendants charged in this case are Gilberto Santiesteban, Jr., of Miami, Norge Manduley, of Hialeah, Alexander Santiesteban, of Miami, Gilberto Santiesteban, Sr., of Miami, German Silvestro, of Miami, David Silva, of Miami, Francisco Javier Diaz, of Miami-Dade, Alejandro Pimentel, of Miami, Dayana Castellanos, of Miami, and Estrella J. Mijares, of Miami, Darvis Santiesteban, of Miami, and John Villalonga, of Miami-Dade, and are scheduled to go to trial on April 1, 2013.

According to court documents, the defendants operated an extensive network of hydroponic marijuana grow houses throughout South Florida. In 2009, a large quantity of marijuana belonging to the organization was stolen. Members of the organization set out to find the people responsible for the theft. On June 28, 2009, Derrick Santiesteban, Gilberto Santiesteban, Jr., Yadira Santiesteban, Norge Manduley, and Juan Felipe CastaƱeda kidnapped the individual who they thought was responsible for the theft of the marijuana. During the abduction, the individual was shot and killed.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, Miami-Dade Police Department, and IRS-CI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys William Athas and Pat Sullivan.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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