Cheraw man accused of illegally harvesting alligators

CHERAW, S.C. — Officers with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office have been involved in a year-long investigation into the killing of alligators.

They got a search warrant Thursday for a property on Highway 52 South outside Cheraw where Ray Loflin lives.

Officers found alligator parts and carcasses buried in the yard. They couldn’t say exactly how many there were.

“We’re in the process of figuring out how many animals that might be, because if you have individual feet or a  head, you know, pieces cut up -- it’s not immediately apparent how many animals,” said David Lucas, SCDNR.

Loflin’s Facebook page shows that he has a critter removal business.

He was also contracted with SCDNR to remove nuisance alligators.

The agency said it contacted Loflin when they had a complaint about a nuisance gator in the area. DNR officials said those calls are common, especially in the spring and summer in the Pee Dee region.

The animal is usually euthanized, because it can’t be set loose on a different piece of property.

In order to capture an alligator, the person must have a permit and a tag, which is placed on the reptile.

“You cannot move a gator. You can’t even touch a gator,” Lucas said. “It’s against state law unless you have that permit and that tag.”

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DNR officers said Loflin had harvested alligators without permits or tags.

The tags allow SCDNR to track gator populations and provide other useful data about the animals in South Carolina.

Loflin’s contract with the state was revoked following his arrest on Thursday.

A SCDNR statement in part to Channel 9:

“Julius Raymond Loflin Jr. was, prior to his arrest, a state-contracted alligator removal agent and had been issued permits and tags by SCDNR’s wildlife & freshwater fisheries division for use in the legal removal and disposal of nuisance alligators.”

Loflin had not been utilizing permits issued to him appropriately and was engaged in taking alligators without the use of the proper tags and permits in violation of state laws, according to evidence from SCDNR’s ongoing investigation and the suspect’s home.

Though Loflin is not a sworn law enforcement officer, the search of his property also found police paraphernalia and items used or worn by officers with SCDNR and other agencies, Lucas said.

Chesterfield County sheriff’s deputies said during the search, they also found drugs and some stolen property as well. At this time, they haven’t specifically said what kind of drugs or stolen items were found.

It is legal to bury harvested or hunted animals on a property as long as local county and city ordinances don’t prohibit it.

The issue is not with the burial but how the alligators were taken.

As of late Friday afternoon, Loflin was still in jail without bond because more charges were pending against him.

He had not officially been charged with the animal-related offenses, but officers expected to file those charges soon.