A Blythewood man was indicted for forcing or attempting to force several victims — including a minor — into prostitution during a three-year span, authorities announced Thursday.
Brian Leroy Watson, 48, was taken into custody on Thursday by the FBI. He is scheduled to make his first appearance at the federal courthouse in Columbia on Tuesday, according to a news release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Watson was indicted on attempted sex trafficking of children, attempted sex trafficking and seven counts of sex trafficking.
The indictment alleges Watson forced seven victims into prostitution from May 2016 through November 2019 during different time periods. Also, between January and February 2016, he attempted to force a victim into prostitution, the indictment states. During that same time period, he attempted to prostitute a minor, a teenaged girl, who he advertised on websites, according to the indictment.
In a written statement, U.S. Attorney Peter McCoy Jr., vowed to work with law enforcement to prosecute “those who exploit others.”
“Human trafficking is an egregious crime that often targets the most vulnerable among us for the profit of another,” he said. “It is a dark reality even here in South Carolina, and this office will not tolerate it.”
The FBI led the investigation into Watson’s crimes, but the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the investigation.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott echoed McCoy, adding that partnerships with the community are “the key to stopping this horrible crime.”
In addition to the sex trafficking charges, Watson was also charged with distribution of heroin, and distribution of heroin and fentanyl. Also, he was charged with maintaining a drug-involved dwelling for using his home in the 1000 block of Round Top Church Road to make and sell drugs.