A former Army Reserve military policeman convicted of running a sex trafficking enterprise in North Carolina for five years was sentenced Thursday to four decades in prison.

Xaver M. Boston, 31, coerced victims struggling with opioid addictions to become prostitutes for his profit between 2012 and 2017, except for a brief period when he was deployed to Afghanistan, according to the Justice Department.

A federal jury in Charlotte convicted Boston in 2018 of six counts of sex trafficking and one count of using a website to promote his prostitution enterprise. The trial lasted three days and included testimonies from three victims, two young women and one girl below the age of 18.

Army Reserve officials did not immediately respond to a request seeking Boston’s final rank and date of separation.

Boston, who also went by the moniker ‘Romeo,’ recruited the victims by promising to provide them with a house to live in and drugs to feed their addictions, according to a federal indictment.

Boston would recruit victims and then control their addictions by giving them heroin and hydrocodone pills, highly addictive drugs with severe withdrawal symptoms. Boston would withhold the drugs to coerce the victims into prostitution and manipulate their behavior, according to the indictment.

Boston controlled his victims' behavior through violence. He punched, slapped and choked the victims multiple times. Boston also used a pistol to strike one victim in the face, breaking her nose, according to the Justice Department.

He advertised the victims' services in prostitution on a now defunct website called Backpage. He then collected the proceeds for his own gain. Backpage was seized by federal police in April 2018 and the CEO pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to facilitate prostitution using the website.

“It takes an especially heinous person to physically, psychologically and sexually abuse someone,” said Robert R. Wells, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Charlotte field office, in a press release.

“Boston’s victims truly believed he was there to help," Wells added. "There is no way of knowing the long term damage he caused to their lives, but we do know for certain he will pay with a lengthy federal prison sentence.”

Boston was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad Jr. of the Western District of North Carolina. In addition to the four decades in prison, Boston was sentenced to 30 years of supervised release.

Kyle Rempfer was an editor and reporter who has covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.

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