NEW ORLEANS -- Police rescued two missing teenage girls who were taken to New Orleans by alleged human traffickers.
The Louisiana State Police Bureau of Investigations Special Victims Unit found two missing teenagers being forced to perform sexual acts in New Orleans.
The first investigation began on Oct. 24 when the SVU received information from the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office about a missing 16-year-old girl. Authorities believed the 16-year-old girl had been communicating with an unidentified man from the Baton Rouge Area.
The next day, investigators found the missing 16-year-old in a motel in New Orleans East with 22-year-old Andre Johnson Jr., who was arrested for an unrelated warrant out of West Baton Rouge Parish. According to police, Johnson lured the girl from her home and took her to New Orleans under false pretenses. Once in the Crescent City, police say he physically abused her and forced her to perform "lewd acts."
Johnson has since been charged with Trafficking of children for sexual purposes.
The second investigation began on Sept. 29 when the SVU found a 17-year-old girl in a New Orleans hotel room. She had been missing for seven weeks. Investigators say the 17-year-old was forced to engage in commercial sexual activity during that time.
After a month-long investigation, an arrest warrant was issued for Rodney Lavalais Jr., for Trafficking of children for sexual purposes. Police arrested Lavalais in Kenner for an unrelated incident on Nov. 2. He is currently being held in the Jefferson Parish Corrections Center, but will be transported to Orleans Parish Prison.
More arrest warrants are pending in this investigation according to State Police.
"These two cases prove how vital it is for law enforcement not just in Louisiana, but across the country to remain focused on combating human trafficking,” said Colonel Mike Edmonson, Louisiana State Police Superintendent. “I am extremely proud of the work that the Special Victims Unit continues to perform."