A Meriden man is facing charges after authorities say he was in possession of several venomous snakes that are illegal to have in CT.
The Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection’s State Environmental Conservation Police responded to a home on Westfield Road Thursday regarding an advertisement for the sale of several venomous snakes seen on a snake forum, officials said.
DEEP officials say 21-year-old Cameron DeFrances posted pictures on social media and listed the venomous snakes for sale.
Crews went to the home and seized seven snakes that are illegal to possess in the state, and found two more that were dead.
Channel 3 spoke to DeFrances who said snakes are his passion and he didn't mean any harm/
"It looks real bad, but to me, it's such an innocent hobby for me," DeFrances said.
Among the snakes that were found alive were a Gaboon Viper, a Forest Cobra, two Egyptian Banded Cobras, and two Monocled Cobras, officials said.
DeFrances said he always want to have a snake as a kid and a few years ago he finally got one.
"I think a lot of it's just blown out of proportion," DeFrances said.
A Tree Viper and a King Cobra were also found dead.
“DEEP takes these cases very seriously,” said Colonel Kyle Overturf in a press release. “The exploitation, importation and trafficking of illegally taken wildlife threatens species in our country and across the world. DEEP helped to pass regulations to prohibit the importation and possession of potentially dangerous animals, including venomous snakes, as a measure to protect the health and safety of our residents and to protect the welfare of these species.”
DEEP said this is a public safety concern and an animal trafficking and exploitation issue.
"Any type of Cobra is venomous. It's possibly lethal, that's why Connecticut prohibits any type of animal like that that is that dangerous," said Colonel Kyle Overturf of DEEP's Environmental Conservation Police.
A neighbor said she's glad the venomous snakes are gone.
"It's kind of crazy to know there's all these venomous snakes next door. They could've gotten out and I have children here, so it's definitely very unsettling," said Lisa Diaz, a neighbor.
DeFrances is charged with nine counts of illegal possession of a category two wild animal, and first-degree reckless endangerment.
He was released on a $1,000 bond and is expected to appear in court May 10.
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