When Will Dillman’s phone started ringing shortly before lunch on August 14, he thought nothing of it. But the news was big. Fifty miles from the biologist’s office in South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources, state law enforcement officers had happened upon Nathan Horton, a notorious turtle trapper and trafficker, hiding out in a storage shed. Nearby, they found more than 200 live turtles.
Earlier that morning the officers had gone out to Chester County to question Terry Dewayne Lucas, an associate of Horton’s, about illegal shipments of eastern box turtles sent outside the state. But when they arrived at Lucas’s house, they discovered a boat from Louisiana parked in the yard—filled with turtle traps.