News and Press Releases

Twelve Defendants Sentenced for Murder/Marijuana Grow House Conspiracy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 23, 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, Michael J. DePalma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and J.D. Patterson, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department, announced the sentencings of defendants Derrick Santiesteban, of Miami, Juan Felipe Castañeda, of Miami, Alexander Santiesteban, of Miami, German Silvestro, of Miami, David Silva, of Miami, Francisco Javier Diaz, of Miami-Dade, Alejandro Pimentel, of Miami, John Villalonga, of Miami-Dade, Raul Fabian Ramirez, Jr., of Miami, Yadira Santiesteban, of Miami, Dayana Castellanos, of Miami, and Estrella J. Mijares, of Miami, before U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore.

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., Norge Manduley, and Juan Felipe Castañeda kidnapped the individual who they thought was responsible for the theft of the marijuana. During the abduction, the individual was shot and killed.

Derrick Santiesteban was sentenced to life in prison on charges of drug, money laundering, and kidnapping with death resulting.

Juan Felipe Castañeda was sentenced to 360 months in prison, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release, on charges of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute marijuana.

Alexander Santiesteban was sentenced to 262 months in prison, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release, on charges of conspiracy to possess one thousand (1,000) or more marijuana plants with the intent to distribute and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

German Silvestro was sentenced to 144 months in prison, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release. David Silva, Francisco Javier Diaz, Alejandro Pimentel, and John Villalonga were each sentenced to 120 months in prison, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release. Raul Fabian Ramirez, Jr. was sentenced to 46 months in prison, to be followed by 2 years of supervised release. Each of these defendants previously pled guilty to Count 1 of the indictment, charging them with conspiracy to possess 1,000 or more marijuana plants with the intent to distribute.

Yadira Santiesteban was sentenced to 70 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. Dayana Castellanos was sentenced to 37 months in prison, to be followed by 2 years of supervised release. Estrella J. Mijares was sentenced to 37 months in prison, to be followed by 1 year of supervised release. Each of these defendants pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

In addition, the following individuals previously pled guilty and are awaiting sentencing:

Gilberto Santiesteban, Jr., of Miami, previously pled guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute marijuana, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and conspiracy to commit kidnapping (Counts 1, 2, and 3). Sentencing is scheduled for July 18, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. before U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore. At sentencing, the defendant faces a minimum mandatory term of 10 years in prison, and a maximum term of up to life imprisonment for Count 1; a maximum term of 20 years in prison for Count 2; and a maximum term of up to life in prison for Count 3.

Darvis Santiesteban, of Miami, previously pled guilty to Counts 1 and 2 of the indictment. Count 1 charged him with conspiracy to possess one thousand (1,000) or more marijuana plants with the intent to distribute and Count 2 charged him with conspiracy to commit money laundering. Sentencing is scheduled for July 18, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. before U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore. 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; and a maximum term of 20 years in prison on Count 2.

Gilberto Santiesteban, Sr., of Miami, previously 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. Sentencing is scheduled for July 18, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. before U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore. 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.

Norge Manduley, of Hialeah, was convicted at trial of one count of conspiracy to possess less than one hundred (100) marijuana plants with the intent to distribute. Sentencing is scheduled for July 30, 2013 before U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore. At sentencing, Manduley faces a statutory maximum sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, IRS-CI, and Miami-Dade Police Department. 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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