A Midlands man was arrested on a 12-count federal indictment in relation to his alleged role in sex trafficking and drug crimes.
48-year old Brian Leroy Watson, Jr., also known as “B” and “Lil B,” was “arrested on a federal indictment charging nine counts of human trafficking and attempted human trafficking and three counts of drug-related violations,” United States Attorney Peter M. McCoy, Jr., announced Thursday in a press release.
McCoy said human trafficking is an “egregious crime that often targets the most vulnerable among us for the profit of another.”
“It is a dark reality even here in South Carolina, and this office will not tolerate it,” McCoy said. “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.”
According to the 12-count indictment (below), Watson, of Blythewood, South Carolina is accused of sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion nine victims between 2016 and 2019.
One of those victims was a child.
“As a reminder to parents, kidnapping is not always involved in human trafficking cases,” Kershaw County Sheriff Lee Boan said. “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.”
Watson….”recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided, obtained, and maintained by any means, and benefitted, financially and by receiving anything of value, from participation in a venture which recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, proved, obtained, and maintained (the victims), knowing and in reckless disregard of the fact that force, threats of force, fraud, and coercion…. and any combination of such means would be used to cause (the victims) to engage in a commercial sex act,” according to the indictment.
“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,” the news release said.
Richland County Sheriff’s Department, Kershaw County Sheriff’s office and the FBI are investigating the case.
“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.”
This is one of several victim-related crimes McCoy’s office has been cracking down on.
If you or someone you know may have information relevant to this investigation, please call FBI-Columbia at 803-551-4200.
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