An alligator that was pulled this week from a motel pool in Atlantic City after a drug raid is in good shape at the Cape May County Park & Zoo and may soon be on its way to a sanctuary in Florida, according to a zoo official.
Meanwhile, more than two dozen adults and children who lived at the Bayview Inn and Suites on Albany Avenue were evicted after the Tuesday raid and the motel was shut down by the city.
On Tuesday morning, police raided 80 rooms at the Bayview Inn and Suites and arrested Jamal Campos, 25, whom they identified as the leader of a drug-trafficking network.
Campos was charged with first-degree strict liability homicide drug-induced death stemming from the overdose death of Adam O’Gara in April, according to a statement from the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office.
Campos also was charged with first-degree leader of a narcotics-trafficking network, possession with intent to distribute 100 wax folds of heroin and possession of heroin.
Six other people were also charged on outstanding warrants.
The raid left 33 people without a home, including men, women and children.
Kevin Wilson, who works in the Cape zoo’s reptile house, said the zoo has run a program for 10 years that takes in abandoned pet alligators and physically brings them to a sanctuary outside of Tampa Bay called “Croc Encounters.”
“We drive the gators down to Florida once a year,” Wilson said. “The first few years we had five or six a year, but this one is the only one I’ve gotten in awhile.”
Pet gators are legal in Pennsylvania and New York, but not in New Jersey. Wilson said many times people buy a pet alligator on an impulse but then realize they don’t make great pets or can’t keep them in their homes in New Jersey.
The zoo takes in the gators to avoid them being euthanized.
Wilson said this particular gator looks to be in good shape with some muscle despite living in squalid conditions at the Bayview Inn and Suites in Atlantic City.
“It definitely wasn’t underfed or anything like that,” he said.
An employee at the Bayview Inn and Suites, who asked not to be identified because of the nature of the case, said some of the people who have lost their homes had been living in a motel for more than five years. Some will now be housed in an Econo-Lodge in Atlantic City, the employee said.
On Wednesday, the doors of the motel remained kicked in while several windows had been boarded up. The condition of the motel, which was open for reservations as recently as last month, had deteriorated considerably since being damaged during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Ceilings in at least two rooms had collapsed, while beds, walls and bathrooms in several rooms were covered in black mold.
The electricity still worked, and one door remained closed and locked with a sign on it that read: “Don’t knock on my door. Have some respect at all times … no one allowed in room.”