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For Immediate Release

Contact:
June 02, 2014 Senior Inspector Barry Golden (954) 214-0301
Fugitive Convicted in Fiery 1998 DUI Crash that Injured Trooper Captured in Panama
Returned to South Florida After 10 Years on the Run

Miami, FL – A fugitive wanted by the U.S. Marshals Service and the Miami Dade Police Department for seriously injuring a Florida Highway Patrol trooper in a 1998 DUI crash has been returned to Miami after being captured in Panama.

Panamanian law enforcement arrested Samuel Silva in Panama last Wednesday, after nearly 10 years on the run. Silva was captured at a home in the Costa Del Este neighborhood of Panama City, Panama. Today, four (4) Deputy U.S. Marshals boarded a chartered aircraft from Ft. Lauderdale Executive airport and flew to Panama. Silva was turned over to the U.S. Marshals Service by Panamanian law enforcement officials who had detained the fugitive since his arrest last week. Deputy Marshals and Silva arrived back in Ft. Lauderdale at approximately 3pm today. Silva will then be turned over to members of the US Marshals Fugitive Task Force to be booked into the Miami Dade County jail.

“The United States Marshals Service pursues all fugitives, no matter where they may be hiding and how long they have been on the run. Sooner or later we will catch up with them,” said Amos Rojas Jr., U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Florida.

On April 7, 1998, an FHP trooper was standing outside her cruiser issuing a citation to another motorist on Interstate 95 near North Miami when Silva slammed his truck into the trooper’s vehicle, catapulting it into the other motorist’s vehicle and pinning the trooper under her cruiser. The cruiser’s gas tank exploded and the FHP trooper received third-degree burns to more than 80 percent of her body. Silva was arrested at the scene and found to be under the influence of alcohol. The FHP investigation shows Silva never engaged his brakes and was driving on a suspended driver license. The trooper survived the crash.

In February 2001, a jury in Miami Dade County found Silva guilty of driving under the influence causing damage to a person (two counts), driving under the influence causing serious bodily injury (one count) and driving under the influence causing damage to property (two counts). In April 2001, the court sentenced Silva to 113 months in prison. Silva filed an appeal of his conviction and was released on bond May 7, 2001.

On May 26, 2004, Silva’s appeal was denied. He was ordered to surrender by June 29, 2004, but failed to do so. That same day, an 11th Judicial Circuit Court Judge in Miami Dade County issued an arrest warrant for his failure to appear. Investigators quickly learned Silva fled the Miami area but his whereabouts were unknown.

In May 2005, the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office filed an additional charge against Silva for failure to appear after being released on bond, which is a third-degree felony. This statute carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

The U.S. Marshals in Miami adopted the Silva case as a fugitive investigation in June 2005. Deputy U.S. Marshals obtained a federal arrest warrant charging Silva with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution in July 2005. U.S. Marshals developed information Silva was hiding with family in Puerto Rico and attempting to secure false travel documents in order to flee the United States. In 2006, the Marshals sent investigative leads to Puerto Rico, but investigators there discovered Silva had fled Puerto Rico in August 2005.

Deputy U.S. Marshals also learned Silva had traveled extensively to elude law enforcement; he traveled to Spain, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and Mexico from 2005-2011.

Earlier this month, Deputy Marshals learned Silva acquired a false U.S. passport in a family member’s name. The investigators determined Silva obtained the fraudulent passport while hiding out in Puerto Rico in 2005 and was now using the name Jose Rafael Godreau. Marshals obtained a copy of the U.S. passport and confirmed Silva’s picture was on the fraudulent travel document. Investigators also found several properties and vehicles Silva purchased in Panama since 2011 under the false name of Godreau.

Based on this new information, Deputy Marshals believe Silva began hiding out in Panama in 2011 under the false name of Godreau. The U.S. Marshals Service, through the U.S. Embassy in Panama, coordinated with Panamanian law enforcement to determine the exact location of Silva. He was located, arrested and subsequently deported to the United States where he was delivered to the custody of the state of Florida to serve out the prison sentence imposed by the court.

Silva’s arrest and deportation were the results of efforts by the Florida Highway Patrol, the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office, the Miami Dade Police Department, the U.S. Department of State – Regional Security Office – Panama, Diplomatic Security Service-Miami Field Office, Interpol, U.S. Customs & Border Protection and its National Targeting Center, the Department of Homeland Security in Panama and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Additional information about the U.S. Marshals Service can be found at http://www.usmarshals.gov.

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