A Florida woman has pleaded no contest after she was caught smuggling a baby alligator in her pants earlier this year as well as over 40 turtles in a backpack.
Ariel Michelle Marchan-Le Quire was riding in a pickup truck that was pulled over in Punta Gorda at around 3:30 a.m. on May 6 after running a stop sign. The driver, Michael Clemons, told authorities that he and Marchan-Le Quire were trying to collect frogs and snakes from under the overpass before a deputy asked permission to search the pair's bags to make sure they did not "collect any wildlife they were not supposed to have," with the pair consenting.
“Ariel opened the backpack that was on the passenger’s floorboard that revealed 41 small turtles,” the Charlotte County Sheriff’s deputy wrote in the incident report, via the Miami Herald.
Then, when a deputy asked Marchan-Le Quire if she had anything else on her, the 25-year-old “proceeded to pull an alligator out of her yoga pants (about one foot in length) and placed it into the bed of the truck.”
She was charged with possessing an American alligator, possessing more than one turtle per day, transporting more than one turtle or turtle eggs and one count of possessing a softshell turtle.
In July, Marcha-Le Quire was cited for failing to appear in court. She was jailed on July 29 and held on a $10,000 bond before being released last week for her sentencing. She was represented by a public defender and pleaded no contest.
On Wednesday, Charlotte County Judge Peter Bell in Punta Gorda sentenced Marchan-Le Quire to six months’ probation and 200 hours of community service, the Miami Herald reports. She was also ordered to donate $500 to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which handled the investigation after authorities caught her attempting to smuggle the alligator and turtles.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Michael Fitzsimmons