By Tony Hanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Federal authorities have gotten a conviction in a human trafficking case that spanned the east coast, and reached our area. A New York man has been convicted in federal court in Philadelphia of sex trafficking by force.

Prosecutor Michelle Morgan says the women agreed to work as prostitutes in Philadelphia, Atlantic City, and other east coast cities, but defendant Justin Williams dominated and controlled them with threats and beatings.

The vicious assaults left physical and psychological scars, and according to Morgan, the women were afraid to walk away:

“They testified regarding fear, but they also testified to some extent about loyalty”

Morgan says things tend to get complicated:

“A lot of times when victims are subjected to constant ongoing abuse like this, they sort of develop a Stockholm type syndrome where they feel sort of attachment to their abusers.”

Authorities call human trafficking a growing epidemic. Federal authorities estimate 15,000 to 18,000 people are victimized in the United States each year.

Morgan says Williams now faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years, and up to life in prison when he is sentenced in January.

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