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DEA Arrests Scarsdale Mom In Massive Pot-Growing Scheme

A photograph taken on May 20, 2013, by the DEA Strike Force shows some of the marijuana plants the agency says were grown by a woman from a wealthy New York suburb, in a warehouse in the Queens borough of New York.

Andrea Sanderlin, a mother who drives a Mercedes SUV and lives in a large Scarsdale, N.Y., home, is facing serious drug charges after federal investigators accused her of being the mastermind behind an operation growing nearly 3,000 marijuana plants in a warehouse in Queens.

"The DEA's arrest of Sanderlin — an attractive, divorced mother of two girls (ages 3 and 13) who lives in tony Scarsdale, New York — will likely draw comparisons to the Showtime series Weeds," reports The Smoking Gun, which first reported the story, "which starred Mary-Louise Parker as the sexy young matriarch of the hydroponic pot-distributing Botwin family."

Sanderlin, who is currently being held in Brooklyn without bail, has pleaded not guilty to trafficking in narcotics, The Smoking Gun reports. If convicted of that charge, she could face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Her lawyer, Joel Winograd, tells New York's Daily News that his client is a full-time mother who has "never been in trouble before." He added, "It's rare that you get a woman accused of running a grow house."

Federal agents say they were told to watch Sanderlin by people who had been arrested in April for running two marijuana grow houses in New York City.

The warehouse that authorities say Sanderlin used to grow marijuana for a multi-million-dollar business included "state-of-the-art cultivation equipment," according to The Smoking Gun.

Her arrest came as a surprise to neighbors in her Westchester County community, the site adds, noting that Sanderlin's longtime nanny says she was shocked to hear the news.

But neighbors of the warehouse weren't as surprised.

Anthony Flores, who lives across the street, "would often smell the marijuana aroma emitting from the warehouse," the Daily News reports.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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