The crocodile was "submerged in a poorly secured tank with rancid water," according to the Oxnard Police Department

By Gabrielle Chung
March 04, 2021 06:54 PM
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crocodile found during drug bust
Crocodile
| Credit: Oxnard Police Department

Police made a startling discovery on Tuesday when they found a live crocodile during a search for drugs at a waterfront home in Oxnard, California.

Donny Askar, 44, was taken into custody on Tuesday after officers conducted a probation search at his residence near the Channel Islands Harbor as part of a narcotics investigation, the Oxnard Police Department said in a news release.

While searching Askar's home, officers discovered a 4-foot-long crocodile "submerged in a poorly secured tank with rancid water," according to police.

Law enforcement said that they also found cocaine, as well as heroin and methamphetamine for sale, during the search.

According to police, the discovery of the crocodile was especially concerning as Askar's home is very close to the harbor and the reptile could have escaped into the open water.

Wardens from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife were able to secure the crocodile and transport it to a "safe and secure location," police said.

"The crocodile is in a temporary facility that is permitted to provide this type of care, but will likely be moved to a different permitted facility that has a bit more expertise to care for the crocodile once the case is adjudicated," a spokesperson for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife tells PEOPLE on Thursday.

The spokesperson also confirms that the reptile found is a crocodile — and not an alligator as police previously reported.

"We have no hard feelings toward our police brothers and sisters for the mistake!" the spokesperson say.

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Askar has been charged with animal cruelty and suspicion of possession for sale of heroin and methamphetamine, which are felony charges, according to the Oxnard Police Department.

He also faces a misdemeanor charge of illegal possession of the crocodile, police said.

It's unclear if Askar has obtained an attorney who can speak on his behalf or if he has entered a plea at this time.

Online records show Askar was previously released from jail on Feb. 9. He currently has a court date scheduled for March 19 at the Ventura County Superior Court.