United States Marshals returned to Miami Monday with Samuel Silva in handcuffs after he was arrested in Panama. His capture came 16 years after a DUI accident he caused that left then-trooper Marissa Sanders injured on the side of the Interstate 95.
In April 1998, Sanders had pulled over a car when Silva’s car smashed into her cruiser and pushed it into the car she had stopped. Sanders was knocked to the ground and suffered third-degree burns to her legs when her car's gas tank exploded.
Sanders’ career with the Florida Highway Patrol was taken from her by that accident. A few years later, Silva was sentenced to nine years and five months in prison for DUI causing serious injury. At the time of the accident, Silva’s blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit.
Silva appealed the verdict and was released on bond in May 2001. Three years later, his appeal was denied and the conviction was upheld. He was ordered to surrender for his sentence on June 29, 2004, but he never showed up.
Instead, Silva fled the state of Florida, according to the Marshal’s service. FHP requested the Marshal’s Service take up the case to find Silva and they took up the case utilizing federal resources to help with the investigation.
According to the Marshal’s service, Silva went to Puerto Rico in 2005 and obtained fraudulent travel documents to leave U.S. jurisdiction. In 2006, Marshals went to Puerto Rico and found that he had fled the country in August 2005.
Nine years later, the Marshal’s investigation discovered that Silva had used the fraudulently obtained passport to travel to Spain, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Guatemala, and finally Panama. The Marshal’s Service found Silva had four properties and two vehicles under his fake name in Panama.
Last Wednesday, Panamanian law enforcement, along with the U.S. State Department in Panama, arrested Silva at his home in Panama City. But Silva, according to the Marshal’s service, wasn’t ready to leave without one last fight.
He was said to be an unruly passenger and was denied access to enter a plane last week. Then last Friday, four U.S. Marshal’s chartered a jet, took custody of Silva and brought him back to the United States to face justice on Monday.