Woman Accused Of Running Multimillion-Dollar Black Market Pot Operation

By Kelly Burch 04/08/19

The Massachusetts resident was charged with conspiring to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana.

woman under arrest for running multimillion dollar pot operation

Recreational marijuana may be legal in Massachusetts, but black market operations will not be tolerated in the state, judging by the experience of one woman who is now facing federal drug-trafficking charges for allegedly operating a black market pot service. 

Milton resident Deana Martin was charged with conspiring to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana, according to a press release by the U.S. State Attorney General’s Office. Martin allegedly operated a black market business between 2015 and 2018 that had about 25 employees and grossed more than $14 million from 2016 to 2018. 

The company, Northern Herb, claimed to be a medical marijuana company, but did not check that clients had medical marijuana licenses. It was not clear whether Northern Herb was a licensed medical marijuana provider in the state. The company operated online, selling marijuana, pre-rolled joints and marijuana-infused edibles that were delivered to clients. 

In addition to operating outside the medical marijuana field, the company got into trouble for leaving packages unattended at homes and in apartment hallways. This would allow the drugs to potentially be picked up by someone other than the person who had ordered them. 

Martin apparently planned to incentivize her employees for selling a certain amount of marijuana each month. 

“One such incentivized tier, for instance, would be for selling more than 10 pounds of marijuana per month,” the Attorney General’s Office said. 

Despite the fact that cannabis became legal in Massachusetts in 2017, Martin was not interested in joining the legal market. In Massachusetts, marijuana is taxed at 17% and local governments can add an additional tax on top of that. In an email discussing tax rates for legal cannabis businesses, Martin wrote, “Zero taxes is still better.”

Although she didn’t file taxes for the businesses, Martin claimed an income of $80,000 a month during the time that she was operating Northern Herb. She used the money to pay down her mortgage, which was about $300,000, and to purchase a Porsche, court documents said. 

She did not pay any taxes for the business, or provide employees with proper tax documentation, the Attorney General’s Office said. In fact, she laundered the money that came through the business and hid it in accounts that were not in her name, the Attorney General’s Office said. 

If Martin is convicted of the federal charges, she faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years, and up to 40 years in prison. She could also be fined up to $5 million. 

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.