SOUTH COATESVILLE, Pa. (FOX 29) - Three men were arrested after police say they found drugs, packaging material and an alligator during the search of a home in Chester County.
Irving "Gotti" Hawkins, Aki Gathright and Tyrone Jackson have been charged with drug trafficking and related offenses.
Police recovered heroin, crack cocaine and marijuana, during their search. No charges were filed regarding the alligator.
Officials say the three-foot long juvenile gator was found living in the kitchen of the South Coatesville home. Police believe the animal was meant to project a tough facade.
"Drug dealers will do just about anything to project an image of danger in order to protect their drugs and cash," said Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan. "Some drug dealers use pitbulls or snakes, but these drug traffickers kept an alligator in the house."
According to reports, the defendants claimed that the animal was a caiman, which closely resembles an alligator. Authorities later identified it as an American alligator.
The reptile was sent to the Brandywine Zoo in Wilmington, Delaware.
The zoo plans to use the gator as an educational animal this summer, then transport it to St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park in Florida.