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Associated Press
A caiman named Mr. Teeth was found in a Castro Valley, Calif., home Wednesday, where it was guarding 34 pounds of marijuana.
Briefs

Reptile found guarding 34 pounds of pot

– Authorities in Northern California made a snappy discovery during a routine probation check: An alligator-like reptile named “Mr. Teeth,” who was apparently protecting a stash of marijuana.

When Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies entered the Castro Valley home on Tuesday, they not only found 34 pounds of marijuana valued at an estimated $100,000, but also the 5-foot-long caiman inside a Plexiglas tank guarding it in a bedroom.

Caimans are usually found in the wetland regions of Central and South America. They’re considered close relatives of alligators.

“We get guard dogs all the time when we search for grow houses and people stashing away all types of dope. But alligators? You just don’t see that every day,” Sgt. J.D. Nelson said Thursday.

The reptile’s owner, Assif Mayar, 32, was arrested Tuesday and later charged with one count of possessing marijuana for sale.

Officials at the Oakland Zoo said Mr. Teeth died Wednesday, a day after it was seized by county animal control officers.

Gas prices likely to fall in this year

Gasoline should cost you less in 2013.

Forecasters say ample oil supplies and weak U.S. demand will keep a lid on prices. The lows will be lower and the highs won’t be so high compared with a year ago.

The average price of a gallon of gasoline will fall 5 percent to $3.44, according to the Energy Department.

Heroin rubbed on gums of infant

The parents of a New Jersey infant who died of heroin intoxication in 2008 have pleaded guilty to manslaughter after admitting they rubbed heroin on the baby’s gums because he was teething.

Just how the 11-month-old boy known as “Baby JM” ingested the heroin had remained a mystery until investigators in Ocean County got new information in the Seaside Heights case in October.

Ocean County prosecutors said Thursday that 35-year-old Denise Manco and 37-year-old Rondell Moore entered guilty pleas this week to one count of second-degree manslaughter. They face up to 10 years in prison.

Shift in sea ice frees killer whales

About a dozen killer whales trapped under sea ice appeared to be free after the ice shifted, village officials in Canada’s remote north said Thursday, while residents who feared they would get stuck elsewhere hired a plane to track them down.

The whales’ predicament in the frigid waters of Hudson Bay made international headlines, and locals had been planning a rescue operation with chainsaws and drills before the mammals slipped away.

US adoptions in Russia extended

The Kremlin said that an adoption deal with the U.S. will remain valid until 2014 despite a new Russian law banning the practice, but it’s unclear whether it would keep the door open for more adoptions or allow the completion of adoptions that were under way before the ban was passed.

Last month, President Vladimir Putin signed a law banning Americans from adopting Russian children, part of a harsh response to a U.S. law targeting Russians deemed to be violating human rights.

In Paris, Kurds gunned down

Three Kurdish activists were shot dead in what authorities called an “execution” in central Paris, prompting speculation that the long-running conflict between insurgents from the minority group and Turkey was playing out on French shores.

The slayings came as Turkey was holding peace talks with the Kurdistan Workers Party, which seeks self-rule for Kurds in the country’s southeast, to try to persuade it to disarm.

Venezuela honors ailing Chavez

Thousands of supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez rallied outside his presidential palace Thursday in an alternative inauguration for a leader too ill to return home for the real thing.

The government organized the unusual show of support for the cancer-stricken leader on the streets outside Miraflores Palace on what was supposed to be his inauguration day. A swearing-in ceremony has been indefinitely postponed.

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