A Long Island man was arrested on Monday after police busted him with a car full of venomous lizards (assorted), and all I can think to say about that is HOLY HELL and also why, though?
According to Nassau County Police, officers busted 27-year-old Anthony Cammarata after they watched him back his 2002 Lincoln into a driveway in Seaford, Long Island, and spotted a Gila Monster inside the car.
The NY Post reports that the Gilas (yes, plural) "were in the middle of escaping" at the time. Officers sprung into action, and extracted a total of "three (3) Gila Monsters, one (1) alligator, two (2) Caiman, and five (5) Beaded lizards" from Cammarata's vehicle.
For the uninitiated, Gila Monsters are "one of only a handful of venomous lizards in the world," per National Geographic, and transmit their venom by "latch[ing] onto victims and chew[ing] to allow neurotoxins to move through grooves in their teeth and into the open wound." Although Nat Geo maintains that Gila venom has never translated to any human deaths that we know of, the monsters nonetheless remain illegal in New York State.
According to the Post, the Caimans in the car were of the dwarf variety—"the smallest of all crocodilians" per Cobras.org, sure why not—and occupied the trunk along with the 2.5 foot alligator. Which means this guy had allegedly been driving around with a trunk full of loose alligators and crocodiles: The Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals told Gothamist that these were free-range monsters who roamed around the car's interior during their ride.
Police also allege that Cammarata had a firearm and what appeared to be steroids packed away in his car. All things considered, I think this makes sense.
Cammarata appeared to be delivering his writhing haul to Doug Dellecave, owner of a Levittown pet shop called "Reptile Rage." There, authorities had already encountered a 5.5-foot water monitor—reportedly the third longest lizard in the world, everything is fine!—in an unlocked enclosure. According to the Post, the beast's nimble krampus hands, tipped with four-inch nails, equipped it to "easily manipulate" the enclosure's door.
The NCSPCA says it took two monitors—an Asian water monitor and a black-throated monitor—from the shop. Unlike the vehicular reptiles, which the NCSPCA said were "all listed on the state DEC register as dangerous illegal to possess, own, or harbor" without a license, monitors can be kept with a permit. Dellecave's had allegedly expired.
Their raid of "Reptile Rage" led authorities to Dellecave's house, with a warrant and a police helicopter on standby, in case anyone incurred lizard bites during the confrontation. That's where they snared Cammarata, who has since been charged with one count of criminal possession of a weapon in the 2nd degree, two counts of unlawful possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device, protection of the public from attack by wild animals and reptiles, five counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, and four counts of possession of dangerous animals.
According to Newsday, Cammarata's attorney argued that his client had merely agreed to pick up the Lincoln for a family member, blissfully unaware of the venomous reptiles crawling around inside—a fairly thin defense, considering the NCSPCA's allegation that the lizards had not been caged for their commute.
The lizards, meanwhile, are currently being held at a sanctuary where they will remain throughout the trial process, the NCSPCA said. There, they'll receive any medical care they might require, and after the case is adjudicated, will be transferred to a zoo or a research center if they don't just stay at the sanctuary.
"Nassau county will not stand for the possession of dangerous or illegal animals without a permit, we will do what we need to combat this," NCSPCA Officer Matthew Roper said. The illegal animal trade is "a huge, multi-million dollar industry," he added, vowing that authorities "will do what we need to to take a bite out of crime."