Alligator-like reptile found guarding marijuana stash dies in Calif. zoo, officials say

A 5-foot-long alligator was found guarding a stash of marijuana in a California home
Alameda County Sheriffs Department
A 5-foot-long alligator-like reptile named "Mr. Teeth" was found guarding a stash of marijuana in a California home on Jan. 9, 2013
Alameda County Sheriffs Department

(CBS/AP) CASTRO VALLEY, Calif. - A 5-foot-long alligator-like reptile named "Mr. Teeth" discovered in a Northern California home apparently protecting a stash of marijuana has died Wednesday in a veterinary hospital, zoo officials said.

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Oakland Zoo officials said the dwarf caiman, previously misidentified by authorities as an alligator, died a day after Alameda County Sheriff's found it during a probation check at a home in Castro Valley. Sgt. J.D. Nelson said the reptile was likely used to deter marijuana thieves.

The reptile arrived at the zoo "critically ill and nonresponsive," zoo spokeswoman Nicky Mora said.

Assif Mayer was arrested and jailed on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale after authorities found 34 pounds of marijuana worth $100,000 in his bedroom near the reptile tank. Mayar told deputies he got the creature to commemorate rapper Tupac Shakur's 1996 death.

Police said Mayer also faces animal abuse charges for keeping the malnourished caiman in inadequate living conditions, the San Jose Mercury News reported. Fish and wildlife officials cited him with possession of a restricted-species live animal, a misdemeanor that carries a fine of as much as $3,000 and a year in jail, according to the newspaper.

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Jan. 10, 2013 - Alligator found in California home guarding $100,000 marijuana stash, authorities say