It began as a routine probation check but quickly turned into a trip to the Oakland Zoo after Alameda County Sheriffs Deputies walked into a house on the 19000 block of Mount Jasper Drive in Castro Valley and came face to face with Mr. Teeth.
The five-foot-long Caiman alligator was in a Plexiglas tank in one of the bedrooms.
Sgt. J.D. Nelson said when deputies got to the bedroom they found Mr. Teeth “guarding” a 34-pound stash of dried processed marijuana.
“Instead of a guard dog you had a guard alligator,” said Nelson. “When it’s in there it’s a little unnerving to have a live alligator that opens its mouth when you walk in the room so anyone that would come in that room would cert be concerned as the deputies were.”
The size of the gator was another surprise.
Nelson said Animal Control had picked up gators before, but none as big as Mr. Teeth. The man who was the target of the probation check is 32-year-old Assif Mayar. Nelson said he’s been on probation less than a year for a “disturbing the peace” offense.
When investigators were trying to determine the age of the gator, Nelson said one of the most bizarre pieces of information came out. “He said he got it to commemorate the death of Tupac Shakur so that’s how we knew it was approximately 16 years old.”
When NBC Bay Area knocked on the door Wednesday night, the lights were on and dogs were barking, but no one answered. Neighbors told NBC Bay Area Mayar and his wife moved into the house about two years ago before their son was born.
A mother of two who didn’t want to be identified said she’d been inside that house before, but noticed and heard nothing out of the ordinary. “They’re just family people like us and she has a little boy very cute, about 20 months, so of course you wouldn’t suspect or expect anything like this from this neighborhood,” she said.
Another neighbor who also did not want to be named added: “It doesn’t belong in a neighborhood with little kids and there are lots of little kids. There’s a school about a block away and if the thing got out, that could be really dangerous.”
Caimans are generally from South and Central America and require a lot of care. They need a heat source, large pond with extra space, and fresh meat bi-weekly. Mr. Teeth was taken to the Oakland Zoo where it’s recovering at the veterinary hospital under constant care. Zoo officials described its condition as “very sick.” It is set to be in quarantine for 30 days, following standard protocol to test for parasites and bring its health back.
Mayar is being held at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin in lieu of $160,000 bail and is set to make his first court appearance 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
NBC Bay Area's Lori Preuitt contributed to this report.