brown wooden chairs inside roomA federal jury found defendant Lonnie Mitchell, 36, guilty of numerous offenses of coercing several victims, including a minor, to engage in prostitution over the course of several years, officials stated.

Following a five-day trial, the jury convicted the defendant of sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion of five victims, officials stated.

The jury also found the defendant guilty of sex trafficking a minor, and three counts of coercing and enticing an individual to travel in interstate commerce for prostitution purposes.

Two other defendants previously plead guilty.

According to the evidence presented in court, defendant Lonnie Mitchell targeted vulnerable victims who struggled with drug addictions and then manipulated their drug addictions for his benefit.

He increased the victims’ use of heroin and encouraged them to use it intravenously.

He then did not provide heroin to the victims if they violated one of his many controlling rules or otherwise did not see enough commercial sex clients.

Other consequences of violating defendant Mitchell’s rules or failing to provide him with sufficient money from prostitution included violence, threats of violence, and threats to send embarrassing information, photos, or videos to the victims’ loved ones.

In addition, defendant Mitchell regulated the amount of food the victims could eat, and when they could eat. Also, he confiscated their identity documents and credit cards all as part of his coercive scheme to control the victims.   

Defendant Mitchell’s co-defendant and sister, Nettisia Mitchell, was aware of her brother’s scheme and facilitated it. Nettisia Mitchell had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion.

According to court documents, Nettisia witnessed Lonnie’s violence against a victim yet harbored the victim and received the proceeds from the victim’s involvement in commercial sex.

A third co-defendant, Donna Emmons, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a minor. Both Nettisia Mitchell and Emmons await sentencing.

They face a maximum sentence of life in prison and mandatory restitution.

“Mitchell beat, threatened, manipulated and exploited his victims,” said U.S. Attorney Sandra J. Stewart for the Middle District of Alabama. “He took advantage of their suffering and addictions to force them into prostitution and drug dealing, all for his own personal gain. The damage caused was not only physical, but also emotional. Undoubtedly, the victims will long be haunted by Mitchell’s actions. “

Sentencing has not yet been scheduled in this matter.

Defendant Mitchell faces up to life in prison if he is convicted of the felonies.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney Sandra J. Stewart for the Middle District of Alabama made the announcement.

This case was investigated by HSI, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, and Montgomery Police Department.

According to officials, the case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Patrick Lamb for the Middle District of Alabama and Trial Attorney Kate Alexander of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit

By Raul

Raul Hernandez is a former journalist. He has worked as a newspaper reporter for more than 30 years at the El Paso Herald-Post, El Paso Times, Press Enterprise in Riverside, California and the Ventura County Star in California. He was a court reporter for more than 20 years.