A New York man’s conviction for sex trafficking marks the first of its kind in Vermont’s federal court.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather Ross said the conviction may be the first in the state.

“We are very pleased that we were able to both interact with the victims, get them in touch with resources, as well as get a conviction for the trafficker,” Ross said.

Diheim Young, 32, of Brooklyn, N.Y., pleaded guilty Tuesday in Burlington federal court to conspiracy to distribute heroin and crack cocaine and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, according to court documents.

Young was arrested in Rutland in March 2015 after an investigation of the Vermont Drug Task Force and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“Young was a pimp and a drug distributor who earned money by coercing women, some of whom were drug abusers and drug addicts, to perform acts of prostitution,” according to court documents.

Four of the five women were Vermont residents at the time they were trafficked, according to a statement.

The trafficking occurred between early 2012 and March 2015.

During the three-year period, Young would make the women — identified in court documents by initials only — travel from Rutland to New York. Once in New York, he would then prostitute them using Backpages.com or take them to an area known as “the track,” according to court documents.

On numerous occasions, Young would physically and sexually assault the women if they tried to leave or refused to engage in commercial sex, according to the documents.

Frequently, Young would take the women’s identification documents and cellphones.

According to the statement, the women sold drugs for Young and transported him to New York City to pick up drugs from his supply source.

“When the women were sufficiently addicted to be dependent upon him, Young turned their addictions against them as means of controlling them,” the release said.

As part of the plea agreement, another indictment of Young will be dismissed at the time of his sentencing and he will not be prosecuted in Vermont for “any criminal offenses” known by the federal court relative to sex trafficking and drug distribution.

Sentencing is scheduled for November and while the trafficking charge carries a maximum life sentence, as part of the plea agreement both parties agreed to 144 months, or 12 years.

“Our office is equally committed to preventing and prosecuting human trafficking in Vermont,” U.S. Attorney Eric Miller said in a news release. “This case demonstrated that we will vigorously investigate and hold accountable drug dealers who coerce addicts into performing commercial sex for profit.”

In addition to this particular case, Ross serves as the co-chairwoman for a statewide human trafficking task force.

“At this point, we don’t have our arms around human trafficking,” Ross said. “As a state, we are just starting … we don’t yet have a scope.”

emily.cutts @rutlandherald.com

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