Prosecutor: Watson contacted witnesses

BLYTHEWOOD – A Blythewood man charged with running a sex and drug trafficking operation has been sanctioned for contacting witnesses in the case from jail.

Watson

In court documents filed Sept. 4, U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs signed an order barring Brian Leroy Watson from “having any contact with potential victims or witnesses, direct or indirect, by phone, email, online chats, social media websites, U.S. Mail, including through any third parties.”

The order became necessary after prosecutors said in court filings that Watson, also known as “B” or “Lil B,” contacted witnesses to discuss the case. In one instance, a witness with whom he spoke discussed retaliating against a victim in the case, court records show.

“While in custody on the [current] charges, Defendant is contacting witnesses, having conversations about who he believes are the victims with witnesses, and at least one of those witnesses has discussed retaliating against a person that witness believes to be a victim,” prosecutors said in a filing.

Ordinarily, the issue would be moot because attorneys noted the suspect would be bound by a no contact order if out on bond.

Presently jailed at the Lexington County Detention Center, Watson was allowed to contact people by phone, email, US mail or in person. One of the persons Watson contacted was an unnamed woman in custody at another area detention center, documents state.

“The intent of such contact is presumably to obstruct justice, influence testimony, or punish who Witness 2 believes to be a victim in the case,” the filing states. “The Court has a firm basis to impose conditions, including while in detention, necessary to prevent and restrict Defendant’s ability and opportunity to improperly influence witnesses or obstruct justice.”

According to court records, the suspect contacted at least two witnesses to discuss facts of the pending case. He also evaded jail restrictions to set up a three-person call with two witnesses to discuss the victims in the case, filings state.

Documents further state that a woman with whom the suspect had a “close relationship” and is jailed at another facility vowed to retaliate against a person she believes to be a victim.

The woman’s identity and exact nature of the discussions were not disclosed in court documents, but prosecutors viewed the discussions as more than enough reason to muzzle the suspect.

“Given Defendant’s history of force, fraud, coercion, intimidation, physical violence, and sexual violence against both witnesses and victims, given the fear witnesses and victims commonly report, and now Defendant’s contact with Witness 1 and Witness 2 and Witness 2’s disturbing statements about who Witness 2 believes to be a victim demonstrates the risk and the need for the requested relief,” documents state.

Watson, 48, of Blythewood, has pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of various human and drug trafficking charges.

The 12-count indictment issued in August 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.

On August 27, prosecutors disclosed a laundry list of computers, communications equipment, weapons and other items investigators seized from the suspect.

Investigators seized 12 cell phones, five tablets, video game systems, three rifles, BB guns, computers, watches, DVRs and a cache of DVDs, documents state.