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Large Marijuana Grow Operation Busted in Oil City

Tuesday, January 26, 2021 @ 12:01 AM

Posted by Aly Delp

marijuana-arrestOIL CITY, Pa. (EYT) – Felony charges have been filed against a man who was allegedly operating a large marijuana grow operation in a residence in Oil City.

Court documents indicate the Erie-based State Police filed criminal charges against 39-year-old Dana Alan Sunderlin and 30-year-old Lyndsey Marie Masters of Oil City.

According to a criminal complaint, on July 29, 2020, the Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers, Inc. received an anonymous tip that individuals residing at a known residence on Cedar Avenue in Oil City, identified as Dana Alan Sunderlin and Lyndsey Marie Masters, were involved in growing a large amount of marijuana in the residence. The tipster also allegedly reported Sunderlin and Masters were selling and using the marijuana they were growing and said Sunderlin grew the marijuana on the second floor and in the basement of the residence.

On September 30, 2020, members of the Pennsylvania State Police Troop E Vice Unit initiated an encounter (also known as a “knock and talk”) at the residence to investigate the tip.

According to the complaint, both Sunderlin and Masters came to the door and the troopers then identified themselves as State Police and asked to speak to them, at which point the pair voluntarily agreed to speak with police.

The complaint states police informed Sunderlin and Masters about the tip, and they admitted there was marijuana inside the residence. The complaint notes they were both extremely nervous and said they did not want to go to jail.

Sunderlin reportedly told police there were marijuana plants growing on the second floor and there was approximately one pound of loose marijuana in his bedroom on the second floor. Masters said her bedroom was on the first floor and did not contain any marijuana, but may contain drug paraphernalia and/or marijuana vapes, the complaint states.

According to the complaint, Sunderlin and Masters said they both resided at the residence with permission from the owner.

The complaint states a trooper then proceeded upstairs with Masters and observed a marijuana grow operation in a tent as well as packages marijuana on top of a dresser belonging to Sunderlin.

A short time later, Sunderlin, Masters, and a third individual who also resided there gave consent for a search of the residence.

According to the complaint, the search discovered numerous items indicative of a large-scale marijuana growing operation, including large bags containing loose marijuana and marijuana plants, an irrigation system, a large grow lighting system with ventilation, and growing chemicals. Troopers also discovered 36 live marijuana plants and additional processed marijuana.

The complaint notes that during the search, police also found numerous explosive devices and explosive materials, including packaging materials, powders, funnels, and wicks, in Sunderlin’s bedroom.

Sunderlin reportedly admitted to police that the items were explosives he made in the house and in his shed, according to the complaint. The complaint states he later told police he created “small fireworks.” However, according to the complaint, the explosives recovered were the size of sticks of dynamite.

During a later interview, Sunderlin also told police that the explosives and marijuana grow operation belonged to him and only him. He told police that he sells very small quantities of marijuana from the residence and uses the profits to purchase marijuana from a dispensary with is valid medical marijuana card, as the marijuana at dispensaries is very expensive and of a higher quality than what he was able to produce.

The complaint notes that Masters also told police that while she recreationally smokes marijuana and would frequently take marijuana from Sunderlin, she did not have any involvement with the marijuana grow operation or the manufacturing of explosives.

According to the complaint, the Hazardous Device and Explosives Section Unit was also called to the scene to assist due to safety hazards from the discovered explosives.

Sunderlin was arraigned in front of Magisterial District Judge Andrew F. Fish at 1:00 p.m. on January 21, on the following charges:

– Manufacture, Delivery, or Possession With Intent to Manufacture or Deliver, Felony (two counts)
– Possession of Controlled Substance, Misdemeanor
– Use/Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Misdemeanor
– Make Repairs/Sell/Etc. Offensive Weapon, Misdemeanor 1

He remains free on $5,000.00 unsecured bail.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on March 24, in Venango County Central Court.

The following charges were filed against Masters through Magisterial District Judge Andrew F. Fish’s office on December 11, 2020:

– Possession of Marijuana, Misdemeanor
– Use/Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Misdemeanor

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on February 3, with Judge Fish presiding.

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