Blythewood man charged with human trafficking

Brian Leroy Watson, 48, faces eight counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion; one count of attempted sex trafficking of children; and three drug-related counts, according to indictments obtained by The Voice

BLYTHEWOOD – A Blythewood man with a lengthy record of drug and theft charges has pleaded not guilty to federal indictments stating that he trafficked women and dealt drugs from his home in the Round Top community of Blythewood.

Watson

Brian Leroy Watson, also known as “B” or “Lil B,” entered the plea at an arraignment hearing Thursday, the day of his arrest. He remains in federal custody, court records show.

Watson, 48, faces eight counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion; one count of attempted sex trafficking of children; and three drug-related counts, according to indictments obtained by The Voice.

James Rogers, a federal public defender, has been appointed to represent Watson.

U.S. Attorney Peter McCoy said in a statement that human trafficking is an “egregious crime,” one that federal investigators do not tolerate.

“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,” McCoy said.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, whose agency assisted in the investigation that also included the FBI and Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office, said human trafficking is a reality in South Carolina.

“Working in partnership with other law enforcement agencies and most important, the community, is the key to stopping this horrible crime,” Lott said.

The 12-count indictment alleges human trafficking violations occurred between 2016 and 2019 in South Carolina. It also charges the suspect 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, according to the indictment.

Court records also state that prosecutors are also seeking an undisclosed sum of money “equal to all proceeds the Defendant obtained directly or indirectly as the result of the offenses charged in this indictment.” Prosecutors also are seeking, upon conviction, to seize a home on Round Top Church Road in Blythewood where the indictment says the drugs were manufactured.

The federal indictment isn’t Watson’s first brush with the law.

In 2018, he pleaded guilty to breach of trust and shoplifting, $2,000 or less. He also pleaded guilty in 2017 to receiving stolen goods, according to Richland County court records.

Watson pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted armed robbery in 2010 and was sentenced to seven years in prison, court records show.

The Richland County Public Index lists additional theft and drug-related charges dating back to at least 1990.