Blythewood Man Arrested and Charged with Nine Counts of Human Trafficking and Three Counts of Narcotics Violations
Columbia, South Carolina --- United States Attorney Peter M. McCoy, Jr., announced today that Brian Leroy Watson, Jr., a/k/a “B,” a/k/a “Lil B,” 48, of Blythewood, was arrested on a federal indictment charging nine counts of human trafficking and attempted human trafficking and three counts of drug-related violations. The arrest and charges are a result of a collaborative effort among the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, and the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office.
“While the record in this case speaks for itself, human trafficking is an egregious crime that often targets the most vulnerable among us for the profit of another,” said U.S. Attorney McCoy. “It is a dark reality even here in South Carolina, and this office will not tolerate it. That is why we work not only with our law enforcement partners to uncover and prosecute those who exploit others, but with support groups within the community that offer support services to human trafficking victims and educate the public about this unconscionable practice.”
"Operations like these result in the release of human trafficking victims from their horrifying bondage," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Jody Norris. "The FBI thanks the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance in this investigation. We ask that anyone with information about human trafficking contact the FBI or their local law enforcement office."
“Human Sex Trafficking is a reality in our community,” said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott. “Working in partnership with other law enforcement agencies and most important, the community, is the key to stopping this horrible crime.”
“We are very thankful for the teamwork of our federal partners in keeping our community safe,” said Kershaw County Sheriff Lee Boan. “As a reminder to parents, kidnapping is not always involved in human trafficking cases. Victims can be coerced into human trafficking by their dependency of basic needs or addiction to drugs. Holding your child close to you while in a crowded place is not always as important as knowing what your child does when they are away from you.”
The 12-count indictment alleges human trafficking violations against Watson as to multiple victims between 2016 and 2019 in South Carolina. The indictment also charges Watson with distributing heroin and fentanyl, and with unlawfully operating a Blythewood dwelling for the purpose of storing and distributing heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine. Watson was arrested on August 20, 2020, and had his initial appearance before United States Magistrate Judge Shiva V. Hodges at the Matthew J. Perry Courthouse in Columbia.
This case is being investigated by the FBI, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Elliott B. Daniels of the Columbia Office.
U.S. Attorney McCoy stated that all charges in this case are merely allegations at this stage and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
If you or someone you know may have information relevant to this investigation, please call FBI-Columbia at 803-551-4200.
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.