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Fair trade

Elmer Navarro Manuel



How far will one go for a 12-pack?

Some people will move heaven and earth just to have a cold one in their hand, as the taste, sight and smell of beer is seen as a treat after working long hours.

Others, especially those who are borderline alcoholic or just plain having a good time, will take things up a notch higher than the rest.

Take the case of this man in Florida, United States, whose urge to down a 12-pack was so intense that he was ready to give anything — as in anything — just to quench his thirst for a cold, greatly-brewed beer.

The man casually walked into a convenience store for a 12-pack, but the store’s staff was taken aback when he tried bartering for the beer with something unexpected — a live alligator.

It was unclear why the man thought the clerk at the Santa Ana Market in Miami would accept the four-foot reptile as payment, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesperson Jorge Pino said.

“I think that anybody who would conceive this scheme is not thinking properly,” Pino said.

The clerk called authorities and the would-be customer, who was identified as Fernando Caignet Aguilera, was cited with possessing, illegally taking and attempting to sell the alligator, which he said he caught at a park.

Each of the three misdemeanor charges carries a penalty of up to six months in jail and a fine up to $500, Pino said.

The alligator was unharmed and was released back into the wild, he said.

While alligators are no longer endangered, in Florida, it is illegal to take them, except during a closely regulated annual hunt.

For Aguilera, it seemed a fair trade.

However, this is not the first case in which alligators were used for strange reasons, as they have been used in making shoes and briefcases, and as university mascots, lunch and — surprisingly — a deadly weapon.

Previously, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation officials cited a case where a man threw a 3.5-foot alligator through a Palm Beach County Wendy’s drive-thru window.

The suspect, identified as Joshua James, was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill and was also charged with illegal possession of an alligator and petty theft.

Wildlife officer Nicholas Guerin said in his report that James drove his pickup truck to the window and, after an employee handed James his drink, threw the alligator through the window and drove off.

Guerin said James was tracked down through video surveillance and a purchase at a neighboring convenience store, adding that James admitted throwing the alligator.