Blythewood man accused of human trafficking multiple victims over 3 years
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Police have arrested a South Carolina man on a federal indictment accusing him of human trafficking and dealing narcotics.
Brian Watson Jr., also known has “B” or “Lil B,” of Blythewood, was arrested Thursday and had his first appearance in federal court.
The federal indictment alleges 48-year-old Watson had multiple human trafficking victims between 2016 and 2019.
It lists seven victims and says he tried to traffic two other victims -- including a minor.
Watson “recruited, enticed, harbored, transported” and benefited from his victims, according to the indictment, which says he forced them to “engage in a commercial sex act.”
The minor listed among his victims was “advertised” by Watson back in 2016, the indictment says. However, that charge is one of attempted human trafficking, implying the minor was thankfully never actually forced to engage in a sex act.
Seven victims did suffer from sex trafficking, according to the indictment. It says three of them were trafficked for about two years by Watson. Others were victims for one month, several months or a year, the indictment alleges.
The indictment also claims Watson distributed heroin and fentanyl and allowed those drugs, as well as cocaine, crack and meth, to be stored and sold through his Blythewood house on Round Top Church Road.
Blythewood residents and neighbors are looking at this arrest as a wake-up call.
“It’s just sad that we can live in a community where this can happen,” one neighbor said. “It’s really scary. I’m just glad that it came to an end today.”
Kershaw County Sheriff Lee Boan said several of the victims were from Kershaw County. He offered some advice for parents.
“As a reminder to parents, kidnapping is not always involved in human trafficking cases,” he explained. “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.”
Boan also said the victims are safe at this time.
“I cant guarantee the condition they were in before or immediately up to the point the house was entered -- but from that moment on they were safe,” he said.
Watson faces 12 federal charges of human trafficking, attempted human trafficking and drug-related violations.
WIS obtained the indictment, which was unsealed during Thursday’s court hearing. (Story continues below.)
FBI investigators were helped in this case by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said: “Human sex trafficking is a reality in our community. Working in partnership with other law enforcement agencies and most important, the community, is the key to stopping this horrible crime.”
The FBI says anyone with information about this case should call them at 803-551-4200.
People with tips about other human trafficking cases should also contact the FBI or local police.
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