Andrea Sanderlin, a suburban mother of two, has been reported by federal authorities to have been running a large-scale, multi-million dollar marijuana growing operation.
According to CNN, authorities found two rooms packed with more than 1,000 marijuana plants, a large amount of dried marijuana, and state-of-the-art lighting, irrigation, and ventilation systems to facilitate hydroponic growing in the warehouse where Sanderlin allegedly ran her business.
Brian Crowell, special agent in charge at the DEA, said, "The warehouse was filled with over $3 million worth of hydroponic marijuana and the organization covertly produced 3,000 marijuana plants.” When the DEA raided Sanderlin's home they also found books on how to launder money and grow marijuana.
As a result of her secret life on the side, the mother of two daughters, 3 and 13, is now facing a federal charge of narcotics trafficking, a felony crime that if convicted, carries a sentence of 10 years. Sanderlin has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Details of Sanderlin's involvement in the case were first reported by website The Smoking Gun.
The police were then tipped off by a witness and Sanderlin was arrested the same day after agents followed her to the warehouse and entered on a warrant.
Authorities say a confidential witness who has been charged with participating in a conspiracy to possess and distribute marijuana tipped them off to Sanderlin's alleged crimes. According to court documents, the witness told investigators that a person named "Andi" operated at least one marijuana grow house in Brooklyn or Queens.
The witness also said the drug ringleader drove a Mercedes SUV and lived in Scarsdale, and later positively identified Sanderlin as "Andi." Law enforcement agents said they contacted the electric utility, Con Edison, about accounts under Sanderlin's name, which led them to her phone number and the location of the Queens warehouse. They also found out that the location was using "an unusually high amount of electricity, " and that bills were paid in cash.
Sanderlin’s attorney, Joel Winograd, said his client is "very concerned" about her girls. New York Daily News reports that the so-called “Pot Mom” was released from jail Monday on a $500,000 bond. As part of her release, she will undergo electronic monitoring while staying at the Manhattan apartment of her children's grandparents until her trial.