WARREN, Ohio (WJW) – A Northeast Ohio TikTok star’s home was raided by officers over one of his exotic, rescued pets.
The Cleveland native who goes by the name “RicoExotic” and has nearly 2 million followers says he was sound asleep when the officers broke down his front door and barged into his home last week.
“I heard a whole bunch of banging at my door and by the time I got downstairs my door was kicked open, I turned the corner and a whole bunch of firearms were in my face,” said the 22-year-old, who asked to be identified by his TikTok name for security purposes due to his large following.
He says the officers served him papers and accused him of illegally having a wild, dangerous animal.
It was a Grivet monkey named Mike which he obtained over a year and a half ago and had registered through the United States Department of Agriculture.
However, the raid was being conducted by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
“They told me they could come back at any time and they said you just better move faster than us, so I phoned someone who could take care of him,” said RicoExotic.
Moving Mike only landed him in more trouble.
He says he was told he would now be charged with “tampering with evidence.”
In a statement sent to FOX 8 News, a spokesperson said in part, “Grivet monkeys are defined as dangerous wild animals under ORC 935.01,” and that RicoExotic “does not possess a Dangerous Wild Animal permit through the Ohio Department of Agriculture for this monkey.” The spokesperson said they are currently “working with TN Dept. of Agriculture regarding the location, health, and welfare of the animal.”
In 2012, Ohio passed the “Dangerous Wild Animal Act” after 48 exotic animals, including 18 Bengal tigers, had to be put down after escaping a property in Zanesville, Ohio.
But RicoExotic says he loves his animals and will do everything he can to continue caring for them.
After everything that’s happened, including his house being damaged during the raid, he has hired an attorney and will continue to fight for Mike.
“It’s more than just love. I feel like I was put here to protect them, to save them,” he said, “Now I’m just trying to build up my GoFundMe so I can find a new home, because I just bought my home, built all of the enclosures everything and now I have to start over.”