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26 January 2018, 06:09 | Updated: 26 January 2018, 06:14
Officers working on a drugs investigation found a 4ft crocodile and 16 live snakes during a house search in Essex.
A man from Basildon was arrested yesterday, Wednesday January 24, in connection with an ongoing investigation into a cannabis factory found in an industrial unit in Cranes Farm Road, Basildon, in November 2015. During the original search of the premises in 2016, a number of reptiles including snakes, toads and spiders were found in very poor conditions.
Following yesterday’s arrest, officers searched a house in Burdett Avenue, Westcliff.
In a bedroom, they found a caiman crocodile and 16 live snakes. Among them were nine classed as dangerous wild animals, including cobras, copperheads, pythons, a Madagascan giant hognose snake and a scorpion.
Another seven snakes were found dead.
Detective Inspector Steve Nelson, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: "The reptiles were held in very poor conditions and sadly a number had died.
"We contacted the RSPCA, whose specialist handlers removed them from the house.
"Those that survived are now in the care of the RSPCA’s Reptile Rescue centre in Brighton.
"We are working together with the charity as part of the investigation into how these wild animals came to be kept in such conditions.
"As officers we come across many different finds during our investigations and these are among the more unusual."
A 36-year-old man from Basildon was arrested on suspicion of cannabis production, keeping a dangerous animal without a licence, and animal cruelty offences. He was released on bail until February 13, pending further enquiries.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Serious Organised Crime Unit on 101. Alternatively, contact independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or www.crimestoppers-uk.org.