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San Pedro man convicted of illegal possession of reptiles

A San Pedro man was convicted of the illegal possession of a banded Gila monster after the venomous reptile bit him and he was taken unconscious to a local hospital, the Los Angeles city attorney's office said.

The Los Angeles Department of Animal Services searched the home of Derek Nathanael Castaneda, 34, in January, and with the help of the Department of Fish and Game, recovered the 18-inch reptile and took it to the Orange County Zoo, according to the city attorney's office.

The bite of this species has been described as extremely painful and the venom as lethal. Castaneda also had in his possession two rattlesnakes without a valid permit, which were subsequently euthanized, the city attorney's office said.

Castaneda, who was on probation at the time for a DUI, was convicted of the unlawful possession of a native California reptile species and the unlawful keeping of a wild reptile without a permit, according to the city attorney's office.

He was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to attend 16 animal-neglect classes, pay $1,000 to the Department of Fish and Game and to attend 52 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, the city attorney's office said.


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