This gives a whole new meaning to a budding family business.
Federal prosecutors allege that the Santiesteban family ran a sophisticated, marijuana-growing operation with 17 grow houses scattered around the Miami-Dade region and a distribution network that stretched all the way up Interstate-95 to New York.
The family purportedly equipped their growing facilities with an elaborate system of security cameras, caretakers as well as drivers to ensure their crops made it from Miami to their client’s pipes.
Federal prosecutors also have accused the family of kidnapping and killing a robber who took 30 plants from them. The man was eventually shot and beaten to death before his body was left on a roadway and his van set on fire in the Everglades, authorities said.
This was a very well-organized criminal network that operated here for a very long time.
- William Athas, an assistant U.S. attorney
Earlier this week, the Santiesteban family’s pot powerhouse was finally shutdown when federal authorities charged six family members and 10 others with conspiracy to distribute drugs. Five others were charged in the kidnapping and slaying.
“This was a very well-organized criminal network that operated here for a very long time,” said William Athas, an assistant U.S. attorney, according to the Miami Herald.
Derrick Santiesteban, Gilberto Santiesteban, Jr., Yadira Santiesteban and Norge Manduley for kidnapping and the resulting death of the robber. Another suspect, Juan Felipe Castañeda, remains at large, according to the FBI.
Alexander Santiesteban and Gilberto Santiesteban, Sr along with six others are all charged with running the drug trafficking network through hiring drug runners and caretakers as well as bringing the dope up to New York and New Jersey.
“They operated under the radar for a long time,” Athas said.
Gilberto Santiesteban, Jr. supposedly gained the nickname “Lucky 95” because of the number of trips he made north without any run-ins with the law. He supposedly travelled with his wife and children to avoid suspicion.
The investigation into the Santiesteban family was conducted over the last decade as authorities came close to busting the group in 2004 after raiding an alleged grow house in Florida. Authorities, however, failed to locate any drugs because it was hidden in a room only accessible from the outside.
Federal authorities estimate that about 1,146 plants were harvested. The going street value of a pound of marijuana is $4,800.