PUNTA GORDA, FL. - What began as an investigation into possible animal neglect resulted in a man being charged with growing marijuana and possession of an alligator.
On April 23, Charlotte County Sheriff's Detectives accompanied Charlotte County Animal Control officers to property on Oil Well Road in Punta Gorda to serve a search warrant concerning livestock at the residence being neglected or abused.
After the resident, 49-year-old Pablo Cauz, was advised of the search warrant, detectives entered a detached garage and found what appeared to be a grow house operation in two separate rooms.
The detectives notified the Sheriff’s Office’s Narcotics Unit of what they found. Narcotics detectives obtained a second search warrant for the grow house. Within one of the two rooms, they located 30 marijuana plants in black plastic pots. In the second room, they found 57 plants. The plants tested positive for cannabis. The marijuana weighed a total of 10.4 pounds.
The original detectives, along with Animal Control, had continued with their original search warrant pertaining to animals. They located two eight-inch long baby alligators in a water tub at the back of the property.
Based on the results of the search warrants, Cauz was arrested on charges of Manufacture of Marijuana, Possession of Marijuana and Possession of an American Alligator. He was being held at the Charlotte County Jail on $28,000 bond.
Anyone with knowledge of illegal drug activity is asked to please call the CCSO Narcotics Unit at 941-575-2157, or Crime Stoppers at 800-780-TIPS (8477).