Numerous members of the same family have been arrested and charged in federal court for trafficking in marijuana. A father and four sons have been indicted for owning and operating 20 hydroponic grow houses in the Miami area since 2004. Although all of the defendants were indicted, one of the sons remains at large and is listed as a fugitive. All of the defendants who are in custody were ordered into pre-trial detention by the magistrate presiding over the case. The defendants are either being represented by a privately retained criminal lawyers in Miami, Florida or defense attorneys appointed by the court. According to court documents, the grow houses reaped in millions of dollars of profits during their operation.
According to the prosecutor handling the case, the defendants harvested the hydroponic marijuana, then transported it to New York where is was sold for approximately $9,000 a pound. The investigation was upgraded to more than a routine narcotics case when information came to light that a couple of homicides were linked to the marijuana trafficking case. The main homicide case was related to a drug rip-off that occurred in 2009. Several armed men arrived at one of the grow houses claiming to be police officers. During the armed home invasion robbery, the gunmen charged into the home and stole approximately 40 pounds of the marijuana. The home owners reviewed surveillance tapes from the home security system and were able to recognize one of the home invaders.
One of the four sons allegedly hatched a conspiracy to kidnap and kill the identified home invader. The identified man was driving his white van in the vicinity of Southwest 127th Avenue and 187th Street when he was carjacked. He was forced to the rear of the van shot several times and dumped on the side of the road. The van was then stripped and burned leaving no evidence behind to assist in solving the crime. Detectives are also investigating a murder in West Kendall that is linked to the marijuana trafficking operation. That victim is believed to been suspected of stealing pot plants from one of the grow houses. Another the reason the case became so high-profile is because a Miami-Dade police officer was accused of being involved in the drug trafficking ring. That officer has been suspended with pay since 2009 pending the completion of the investigation.
Narcotics detectives claim to have come very close in the past to catching the defendants red-handed , but came up empty. By not catching the defendants actually operating the marijuana grow houses, they are relying on informants and cooperating witnesses to prove the case. While the facts alleged by the prosecution seem to imply that they have a strong case, there is no direct physical evidence that will link the father and his sons to the trafficking case or the murder for that matter. The prosecution is rather relying on circumstantial evidence provided in the form of testimony from paid informants and defendants seeking sentencing reductions based on their cooperation in the case. The defense attorneys representing the family members will undoubtedly rely very heavily on cross-examination techniques to seek acquittals on behalf of their clients.
Murder Undid Family's Hydroponic Marijuana Operation, Authorities Say, Channel 6 News Online.com, August 1, 2012.