The blue Chevy pickup truck drove west on Oil Well Road, police say, blew through a stop sign and hung a left onto Tamiami Trail in the dark of night, around 3:15 a.m., Monday. Florida sheriff’s deputies turned on their lights and sirens. When they approached the pickup, the driver said he and his passenger had been collecting frogs and snakes from under a nearby overpass.
The driver, Michael Cody Clemons, told officers that he and his passenger, Ariel Michelle Marchan-Le Quire, were gathering the wildlife together, according to an incident report.
There are some animals that people are simply not allowed to possess in Florida, or at the very least, that people can’t have unless they have a permit. Bears, tigers, rhinoceroses and crocodiles are illegal. Cougars, howler monkeys, wolves and cassowaries are fine as long as a permit is obtained. Particularly applicable in this instance: Florida law does not allow the capture or possession of poisonous reptiles – copperheads, eastern diamondbacks, coral snakes to name a few – unless there’s a permit involved.
So the Charlotte County deputy asked Clemons and Marchan-Le Quire if they would open their backpacks and show their haul – just to make sure they didn’t have anything illegal, the report says.
Clemons, 22, had clothes and other personal items in his bag.
Marchan-Le Quire, 25, grabbed her backpack from the floor next to her feet and unzipped it to show 43 small turtles piled inside, the report says.
“Anything else?” a second deputy asked.
It was then that Marchan-Le Quire reached into her yoga pants and tugged out a foot-long alligator.
According to the incident report, the state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission seized the animals and released them back into the wild. Clemons and Marchan-Le Quire were cited for violations of state wildlife laws.
The sheriff’s office joked about the incident on Twitter: “Not to be outdone by #Floridaman, a #FloridaWoman pulled this alligator out of her pants this morning during traffic stop after being asked the standard ‘Do you have anything else?'”
Not to be outdone by #Floridaman, a #FloridaWoman pulled this alligator out of her pants this morning during traffic stop after being asked the standard "Do you have anything else?" She also had 41 3-stripe turtles in the car. @MyFWC responded to take over the investigation. pic.twitter.com/UdZsDBvh9f
— Charlotte County Sheriff's Office (@CCSOFLSheriff) May 6, 2019