In Miami, Florida, police have busted a marijuana ring run by a single family, the Santiestebans. Six members of the family, along with at least ten other associates, were responsible for running 17 marijuana grow houses as well as an elaborate distribution network from Florida to New York.
The family took care to not get caught, equipping their growing facilities with security cameras, guards, caretakers, and drivers. However, their precautions ultimately didn’t pay off, as federal authorities led an investigation and drug bust operation that was conducted over the course of the past decade. Police came close to being able to arrest the family in 2004 after receiving a tip that marijuana was being grown at a home owned by the Santiestebans. However, police were unable to find the drugs, which were located in a hidden room. Federal agents are now finally able to say that they have busted this operation.
Six members of the Santiesteban family and 10 others were charged this week with conspiracy to distribute drugs. Five others were charged with kidnapping and slaying.
The latter charges tie back to accusations that the family killed a robber who took thirty marijuana plants from them. The man who allegedly took the plants was beaten and shot to death. His body was left on a street and his van was set on fire in the Everglades, according to authorities.
Assistant US attorney William Athas told the Miami Herald, “This was a very well organized criminal network that operated here for a very long time. They operated under the radar for a very long time.” During a hearing on Wednesday, prosecutors asked that the defendants be denied bond.
In the bust, federal officials estimated that almost 1,200 marijuana plants were harvested. Three members of the organization still remain at large.