Suburban Mom Busted Over $3M Pot-Growing Plot

Article Placeholder Image
By Aditi Mukherji, JD on June 05, 2013 11:53 AM

A suburban New York mom has been arrested for growing pot -- a lot of pot.

The mother of two was both head of her household and head of a multimillion-dollar marijuana growing operation, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Just like Nancy Botwin on "Weeds," the mother is accused of leading a double life.

Andrea by Day, 'Andi' by Night

Andrea Sanderlin, 45, would often drive back and forth between her home in upscale suburban Scarsdale, New York, and a run-down brick warehouse in Queens, DEA investigators allege. She would often make the trip in her 2010 Mercedes SUV -- one of her three cars, CNN reports.

During the day, she was "Andrea," a divorced full-time mom known to take horseback riding lessons with her teenager. By night, she was allegedly "Andi," the mastermind behind a massive marijuana business operation.

Federal authorities found more than 1,000 marijuana plants and large amounts of dried marijuana, along with state-of-the-art lighting, irrigation, and ventilation systems, according to court documents.

"The warehouse was filled with over $3 million worth of hydroponic marijuana and the organization covertly produced 3,000 marijuana plants," a DEA special agent said.

With a warrant in hand, agents followed her to the warehouse and arrested her, according to court documents.

She has been charged with narcotics trafficking. It's a federal offense that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Proof of Drug Trafficking?

Drug distribution and trafficking laws penalize the selling, transportation, and illegal import of unlawful controlled substances such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, and other illegal drugs.

The punishment for drug trafficking can vary widely depending on several factors including the type and amount of drugs involved, the geographic area of distribution, and whether children were targeted.

Sanderlin has pleaded not guilty, but the evidence is mounting against her.

Authorities said a confidential witness tipped them off to Sanderlin's alleged crimes, reports CNN. The witness confirmed her identity and place of residence.

Law enforcement agents also learned about a utility account connected to Sanderlin's telephone number in the name of "Fantastic Enterprises" in Queens, at a location that was using "an unusually high amount of electricity."

High electricty usage is a classic tip-off to law enforcement of large pot operations. The utility company also said bills for the account were paid in cash.

When agents raided Sanderlin's home, they found books on how to grow marijuana and how to launder money, according to the DEA.

Perhaps she saw one too many episodes of "Weeds" or "Breaking Bad" and got inspired?

It's not yet clear what strategy Sanderlin's criminal defense lawyer may want to pursue as her case moves forward. First, though, she has a bail hearing to contend with.

Related Resources: