MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — A 36-year-old Alabama man was sentenced to 60 years in prison for his role in a sex trafficking scheme.

U.S. District Court Judge R. Austin Huffaker Jr. sentenced Lonnie Mitchell, of Montgomery, to 60 years for coercing several victims, including a minor, to engage in prostitution over the course of several years. Mitchell was also ordered to pay over $950,000 to the victims.

Mitchell was convicted of sex trafficking five victims by force, fraud and coercion back in June 2022. Additionally, Mitchell was convicted of sex trafficking a minor and three counts of coercing and enticing an individual to travel in interstate commerce for prostitution purposes.

In a news release announcing Mitchell’s sentencing, the Department of Justice said Mitchell targeted victims struggling with substance abuse and manipulated their substance issues for his gain.

The DOJ said evidence presented in court showed how Mitchell would increase victims’ dependency on heroin and encourage them to use the drug intravenously. Mitchell would then allegedly withhold heroin from the victims, forcing them to experience withdrawal sickness, if they broke rules he set or failed to provide services for enough sex clients.

Additionally, the DOJ said Mitchell used violence, threats of violence, and threats of sending out embarrassing photos/videos of the victims to loved ones in order to coerce victims to comply with his demands. Mitchell also regulated how much food the victims could eat and confiscated identifying documents and credit cards to further coerce compliance.

DHS-HSI, ALEA, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and Montgomery Police investigated the case.

Anyone with information about human trafficking cases is asked to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.