NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Police thought they might discover drugs when they raided the south Nashville condo of a convicted felon this week. They weren't expecting to find the three American alligators.
The alligators were discovered Tuesday, along with eight pounds of marijuana, two handguns and drug paraphernalia when police served a search warrant at the condo where Joseph Nelson Hays resides, authorities said.
Court documents say Hays, 32, told police that the alligators belonged to him, but it's not clear how long he's been housing them or why.
The gators were relatively small, said Walter Cook, captive wildlife coordinator with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. One was a little over 2 feet and the other two were about 12 inches long, he said. He said two were in an aquarium and the other was in a plastic container.
"They were just being held as pets," Cook said. "But it is illegal because they do grow up and they do become problems."
The TWRA will try to place the gators in a zoo.
In the meantime, Hays is charged with three counts of possessing an exotic animal, drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia and being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun.
Court records do not list an attorney for Hays and a message left at a phone number listed under his name wasn't immediately returned.