KITTERY, Maine — A Boston man whose arrest on Interstate 95 in Kittery sparked an investigation into sex trafficking and drug addiction exploitation was sentenced in federal court Thursday to 17 years in prison.

In July, Rashad Sabree, 37, pleaded guilty to two counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion for coercing 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 Department of Justice announced.

According to court documents, Sabree controlled the victims by supplying them with just enough heroin to avoid opiate withdrawal and then threatening to cut off their supply and cause them to suffer withdrawal symptoms if they refused to engage in commercial sex.

On Jan. 5, 2016, a motorist called 911 after observing Sabree striking one of the victims while driving on I-95 toward Massachusetts. Kittery police Lt. John Desjardins said Maine State Police put out a “stop and hold” on Sabree’s vehicle traveling south on I-95. A Kittery officer noticed the vehicle near exit 2, he said, and conducted a traffic stop. When the female passengers were identified, authorities initiated an investigation into sex trafficking.

"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 in a statement. "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."

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s HSI, the FBI, and Biddeford Police Department, with assistance from 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.