A 3-foot-long caiman, part of the same family of crocodilians as American alligators, was seized by Texas cops during a drug raid at a private property.
The dangerous reptile, captured on Jan. 21 during the raid at a home on Leach Street in Kilgore, Texas, is believed to be a caiman, native to northern South America, Central America and parts of the Caribbean.
A Crime Stoppers tip alerted law enforcement to alleged drug sales at the home of Jason Best.
Rusk County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement: “On January 21, 2022, Rusk County Sheriff’s Office Investigators, along with Texas Game Wardens, conducted a follow-up investigation based on a Crime Stoppers Tip alleging controlled substance distribution and the illegal possession of an alligator, which resulted in a controlled substance search warrant being executed.”
The sheriff’s office said the search turned up “approximately one pound of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana, approximately a quarter pound of psilocybin (magic mushrooms), suspected THC infused edibles, 76 THC vape cartridges (Delta 9), firearms, United States currency, and a white powder substance that field tested positive for the presence of PCP (Angel Dust).”
But what surprised police most was a large reptile kept in the home.
“A crocodilian believed to be a caiman, approximately three feet in length, was located within the home during the search.
“Rusk County officials and the City of Kilgore Animal Control officials have made arrangements to have the caiman relocated to Nature’s Edge, a wildlife rescue located in Dallas.”
The sheriff’s office said Jason Best, 44, was arrested at the scene and charged with four controlled substance felony offenses. Best’s bond was set at a total of $118,500.
The investigation is ongoing.
Caimans have long snouts and, depending on the species, can grow to be between five and 13 feet long. Black caimans, an apex predator found in the Amazon basin, are the largest caiman species, and can grow to be 14–16 feet long.
Like their alligator cousins, female caimans, and sometimes male, guard their eggs against potential predators. The babies hatch out of their eggs, with some help from their mothers, who hear their cry from within the shell.
Edited by Fern Siegel and Kristen Butler