Boston, Massachusetts - Rashad Sabree, 37, of Boston, Massachusetts, was sentenced Thursday in federal court in the District of Maine to 17 years in prison and ordered to pay restitution after previously pleading guilty to two count of sex trafficking. In sentencing the defendant, U.S. District Court Judge John D. Levy highlighted the degree of cruelty that the defendant’s crimes involved and its impact on the victims. The sentence was announced by Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Halsey B. Frank of the District of Maine, Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Boston, and Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Boston Division.
According to court documents, the defendant coerced two young women to engage in commercial sex acts in Maine between December 2015 and Jan. 5, 2016, by exploiting their heroin addictions, verbally abusing them, and threatening them with violence. The defendant controlled the victims by supplying them with just enough heroin to avoid opiate withdrawal, which involves severe pain and physical sickness, and then threatening to cut off their supply and cause them to suffer withdrawal if they refused to engage in commercial sex. On Jan. 5, 2016, a motorist called 911 after observing the defendant striking one of the victims while driving on I-95 towards Massachusetts, resulting in the defendant’s arrest.
"Sex trafficking is a horrific crime against the human dignity of the victims, and a strong sentence like this one is deserved," Acting Attorney General Whitaker said. "This case is particularly cruel because in addition to the defendant’s use of violence and threats, he exploited the victims’ opioid addictions to compel them to perform commercial sex acts for his profit. I want to thank U.S. Attorney Halsey Frank and the District of Maine’s Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team, HSI Boston, FBI Boston, our Maine state and local partner police agencies, and especially AUSA Julia Lipez and Special Litigation Counsel William Nolan of the Department’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit for their hard work on this case. I also want to thank the Good Samaritan who reported seeing the defendant strike one of the victims on I-95. Together we have achieved a measure justice for the victims and sent a message to traffickers that this Department of Justice will bring the full force of the law against them."
“This case demonstrates the important role that the public can play in helping to protect those who are vulnerable,” said U.S. Attorney Frank. “We encourage the public to say something if they see something. Here, thankfully, a good citizen did just that.”
“Homeland Security Investigations is proud to have assisted in this investigation, a case which clearly exposes the false claim that commercial sex trafficking is a so-called “victimless crime,” said Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge, U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s HSI Boston. “Close law enforcement coordination in this case has allowed justice to be done to the perpetrators of these vicious crimes and to, hopefully, provide some measure of compensation for the victims.”
“This defendant preyed on the addictions of his victims and brutally exploited them in a scheme driven by cruelty and greed,” said Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Boston Division. “With today's sentencing, Sabree will pay the price for his crimes, while his victims continue to recover from the abuse suffered at his hands. This case demonstrates the FBI's unwavering commitment to work with our law enforcement partners to hold sex traffickers like him accountable.”
The District of Maine is one of six districts designated through a competitive, nationwide selection process as a Phase II Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team (ACTeam). ACTeams focus on developing high-impact human trafficking investigations and prosecutions involving forced labor, international sex trafficking and sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion through interagency collaboration among federal prosecutors and federal investigative agencies.
The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s HSI, the FBI, and the Biddeford Police Department, with assistance from the Maine State Police and the Sanford, Kittery, and Portland Police Departments. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia Lipez and Special Litigation Counsel William E. Nolan of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.