It all began in the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday in the 4000 block of Island Avenue when police stopped a rental car travelling with the lights out and two men inside.
Officers say they found 13 pounds of marijuana.
Police arrested 39-year-old Rodney Saunders and 29-year-old Christopher Lewis, confiscating $5,000.
That led them to a room at an airport hotel where they find a 9-year-old boy and a 10-year-old boy alone and $5,000 more in the room.
Eventually, police say, 39-year-old Senya Saunders - the wife of Rodney Saunders and the mother of one boy and stepmother of the other - arrives. Police follow her and the two children to her home in Cobbs Creek.
By mid-day, police say they saw the two boys leaving the house with heavy backpacks. When police stopped them they found three-and-a-half pounds of pot in each backpack.
Senya Saunders was then arrested and the boys were are turned over to the city's Dept. of Human Services.
"It would appear the mother directed these children to place the marijuana in the backpacks to exit the property in an attempt to surreptitiously get the marijuana out of the house," said Chief Inspector Scott Small of the Philadelphia Police.
As the investigation continued, police arrested two more people - Neiha Rawlerson, the 19-year-old daughter of Senya Saunders - along with 33-year-old Somer Pugh, a per diem police officer for the Philadelphia School District. Police say Pugh was in partial uniform when she was arrested with drug paraphernalia.