Hydrophonic marijuana and growing equipment seized from inside a Queens warehouse allegedly operated by Andrea Sanderlin, a Scarsdale, N.Y., mother of two.(Photo: New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force)
SCARSDALE, N.Y. -- A mother of two has been charged with growing nearly 3,000 marijuana plants worth $3 million in Queens, officials said.
Andrea Sanderlin, 45, who is active in the equestrian community, is accused of conspiring to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute 1,000 or more marijuana plants.
She has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is being held in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn without bail.
Law enforcement personnel from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Police Department and other agencies identified Sanderlin as operating at least one marijuana grow house in the area, officials said.
"This highly sophisticated indoor marijuana grow operation was hidden in a warehouse in Maspeth, Queens," DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian Crowell said in a statement. "The operation was identified and safely dismantled as part of a Strike Force investigation."
Sanderlin is accused of running the grow operation under the name "Fantastic Enterprises," officials said. Consolidated Edison told law enforcement authorities the location used an unusually high amount of electricity.
A confidential witness who has been charged in an indictment with being a part of a conspiracy to possess and distribute marijuana apparently tipped authorities off to Sanderlin's alleged involvement, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court.
Sanderlin was stopped May 20 by agents who were trailing her Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle. Agents, with a search warrant, entered the warehouse, where they found lighting, irrigation and ventilation systems for the marijuana plants, officials said.
Joel Winograd, Sanderlin's attorney, said he has been inundated with media inquiries.
"You've got a woman, Scarsdale, equestrian, marijuana - one is inconsistent with the other," he said.