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NC Zoo, museum caring for seized reptiles

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- More details about two people arrested for housing more than 80 snakes, some of which were venomous.

This all begin when New Hanover County Sheriff's deputies started out looking for marijuana plants Thursday night, but ended up finding much more than they bargained for.

Officers arrested John Adam Kamm, 31, and charged him with felony possession of marijuana and manufacturing drugs. Deputies also arrested Laura Luke, 44. Both Kamm and Luke were charged with numerous counts of mishandling reptiles.

Some of the snakes were kept in plastic containers.

Dean Ripa of the Cape Fear Serpentarium was at the scene Thursday night and says all the snakes appeared to be in good condition.

"They were small containers, typical containers that you would keep snakes in," Ripa said. "There was nothing unsafe about the way they were housed, but they did not meet the requirements of the new state law."

That new state law also defines who gets custody of the animals. The venomous snakes were sent to the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. A museum spokesman declined comment citing the on-going investigation.

A 12-foot python and a 3.5-foot smooth-fronted caiman, a crocodile-like animal, are in quarantine at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro. A zoo spokesman says a vet checked out the animals and says they are in good health. If the reptiles are not returned to their owners, the zoo will help find a home for them at another zoo. The NC Zoo does not have an exhibit for those two species.

Kamm and Luke are due back in court next month.

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