In a podcast interview, former Navy SEAL Jimmy Watson tells the story of being arrested by the FBI in front of his mother as they left a diner after having lunch…
As he described the scene:
“I was blasted by 15 FBI agents. Jumping out of SUV’s, coming out of the woodwork. Coming out of the trees.
You know, looking down the barrel of a gun and my primary concern was my mother. So I was real calm. And I said ‘hey, hey, hey, whatever you need to do okay.'”
Watson was taken into custody and served with a 7 count indictment.
On March 22nd, 2021, Jimmy Watson plead not guilty to the charges against him.
On June 23rd, John McAfee allegedly killed himself in a Spanish prison the day before his extradition to the US. Leaving Watson “holding the bag”.
But what lead to these charges and the arrest?
Let’s take a look!
The Military Life of Jimmy Watson
Watson has an extensive military career. Beginning in 1999 when he joined the Marine Corp. Where he performed 2 tours in Afghanistan.
According to his biography, Watson:
“Conducted multiple deployments as a Marine Corps Squad Leader in Afghanistan, Blackwater Team Leader in Iraq, and U.S. Navy SEAL Sniper”.
The Nisour Square Massacre
No stranger to controversy, Watson’s time with Blackwater resulted in one of the biggest publicized tragedies of the Iraq war.
In 2007, 17 Iraqi civilians were killed in an operation carried out by Blackwater mercenaries under Watson’s command. Further, this incident resulted in the arrest of 4 Blackwater operators Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, Dustin Heard, and Nicholas Slatten. Each was later pardoned by President Trump.
Ultimately, the incident forced Blackwater USA to rebrand itself, and the US government suspended its license to operate in Iraq.
Jimmy Watson Hired as Security for John McAfee
Watson’s prior military experience made security a good occupation. So when he got a call to be McAfee’s security, he took the job.
It was around November of 2017 when Jimmy Watson was hired by John McAfee. The creator of McAfee Antivirus. At that time he moved into McAfee’s Tennessee home.
Over time McAfee and Watson developed a business relationship in a cryptocurrency enterprise called Team McAfee. And soon Watson found himself in his new role as the CEO of Team McAfee. The partnership lasted less than one year, with Watson departing in October of 2018. After a falling out with McAfee.
The Team McAfee Cryptocurrency Venture
During the course of the joint venture, McAfee used his Twitter to promote cryptocurrencies. The nature of the promotion is still speculative. But the FBI alleges that the Twitter account was used to perpetuate two “fraudulent schemes”.
Activity 1- “Scalping’
The first alleged scheme involved ‘scalping’ which can be used to refer to “pump and dump” schemes often used by cryptocurrency traders.
It is alleged that Team McAfee bought large sums of a cryptocurrency. Hype, or ‘pump‘, it on Twitter and other social media platforms. The FBI alleges that once the value was inflated, the team would sell, or ‘dump‘, the coins at the higher price.
Secondly, the FBI alleges crimes related to Initial Coin Offerings (ICO’s) that were promoted on McAfee’s Twitter. According to the indictment the team would promote coins on their Twitter, without disclosing. Or even concealing that the ICO issuers were compensating the team.
However, on February 18th of 2018 McAfee did admit to receiving payments for the ICO’s he promoted in a tweet.
The Legal Issues Surrounding the Case
While these actions may not seem apparently illegal. There are surrounding legal implications should the allegations be true.
First of all, on July 25th, 2017, when the Securities Exchange Commission publicly issued “The ICO Report“. The report cautioned that ICOs may be considered as ‘securities’ under federal securities law.
And on November 1st, 2017 the SEC announced a warning for those who might be ‘touting’ ICO’s.
The “ICO Touting Warning” cautioned that:
“Any celebrity or other individual who promotes a virtual token or coin that is a security must disclose the nature, scope, and amount of compensation received in exchange for the promotion.”
One year after the announcement boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., and DJ Kahlid were amoung the first to be charged with ICO touting in November of 2018.
The counts against Jimmy Watson are:
- Commodities and Securities Fraud Conspiracy: Scalping
- Wire Fraud Conspiracy: Scalping
- Wire Fraud: Scalping
- Securities and Touting Fraud Conspiracy: Touting
- Wire Fraud Conspiracy: Touting
- Wire Fraud: Touting
- and Money Laundering Conspiracy.
Jimmy Watson’s New Life: House Arrest
How I found out about Watson may be a bit of a surprise. I actually stumbled across his content while scrolling through TikTok. You see, since his arrest, Watson has been on house arrest while he awaits trial.
The fact that a man on house arrest is making TikToks to kill time is entertainment enough. But his stories about his time with McAfee, the military, and house arrest are worth taking a look at.
Jimmy Watson still awaits trial in New York on the FBI charges. We will work to keep you up to date!