Miami-Dade police officer faces charges related to family marijuana grow-house ring

FBI: Roderick Silva's brother David Silva worked for the Santiesteban family

MIAMI-DADE, Fla. - It was all working out well for Miami-Dade police officer Roderick Silva and the Santiesteban family until revenge brought it all down.

The Cuban-American family got rich out of growing marijuana with a high THC level in hydroponic labs hidden in at least 20 houses in Southwest Miami-Dade. Authorities said they sold it in New York for up to $9,000 a pound.

They hid the money inside spare tires to avoid getting caught. Sometimes they had their clients deposit payments into bank accounts. And they weren't shy about flashing it on jewelry and cars.

"The family that grows together stays together," was their motto. The Silva brothers fit right in.

Silva, 45, used to be a detective for the Narcotics Bureau. His brother worked for the drug syndicate guarding the houses. Silva used police intelligence to make money on the side, a federal indictment said.

"Silva's actions undermine the public's trust in law enforcement, as well as betrays the officers and agents who worked by his side," Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge George Piro said.

Silva was  telling the clan "how to avoid, deflect, frustrate and obstruct" investigations, federal prosecutors said. Silva was also tipping them about their competition. The Santiesteban ring would rob their rivals sometimes, authorities said.

When they got hit June 2009 they sought revenge.

Derrick Santiesteban was getting ready for a 50 pound trip to New York in his Mercedes SUV. Gunmen from a rival gang surprised him and took the weed. The Santiesteban found out who did it.

They had a plot to kidnap Fidel Ruz Moreno, one of the robbers, until the marijuana was returned. Their June 28, 2009 plan failed. Ruz Moreno was driving his 2005 white Chevrolet van. They stopped him at the intersection of Southwest 127th Avenue and 187th Street.

They forced him into the back seat. But he never made it to the kidnap destination,  Ruz Moreno was shot several times. His body was left on the road at the intersection of 135th Avenue and 200th Street.

During the homicide investigation, authorities found out about Silva and his brother David Silva, who was arrested in 2009 for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute marijuana. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and filed an appeal in May.

Miami-Dade police homicide detective Rich Raphael and FBI agent Michael Gualtieiri, working as part of a federal drug task force, took the Santiestebans down. Several of their associates were convicted in federal court. Tragedy has followed the family since. The matriarch of the family was killed and Sandra Santiesteban was also killed earlier this year.

Silva, the police officer, was suspended with pay June 2009. The Satienstebans paid Silva $1,500 in cash for his silence during the investigation, prosecutors said. The law caught up to him this week.

"This violation of trust tarnishes the badge of every hard-working officer who risks his/her life daily to protect this community," MDPD Director  J.D. Patterson said.

Silva was arrested and charged with one count of aiding and abetting a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana. He was also charged with one count of extortion.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer  said the "indictment sends a message to all public officials who commit crime that they are not above the law and that they will be brought to justice."    

If Silva is found guilty, he faces up to 30 years in prison -- a minimum of 10 years  on the aiding and abetting conspiracy charge and up to 20 years for extortion.

DOCUMENT: Criminal complaint against the Santiestebans

DOCUMENT: Read David Silva's May 15, 2014 appeal

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