2 men arrested for child trafficking in N.O., 2 children rescued
NEW ORLEANS – The Louisiana State Police Special Victims Unit have recovered two missing children and arrested two men on charges of child trafficking.
The Special Victims Unit arrested 22-year-old Andre Johnson, Jr. and 30-year-old Rodney Lavalais Jr. following two investigations.
The first investigation began on Oct. 24 when information was received from the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office regarding a missing 16-year-old girl. It was believed that the girl had been communicating with an unidentified man from Baton Rouge at the time. The next day, investigators recovered the missing girl from a motel in east New Orleans. The girl was placed in protective custody.
Johnson was arrested in the same motel room for an unrelated warrant out of West Baton Rouge. Investigators determined that Johnson lured the girl from her home and took her to New Orleans under false pretenses, where he abused her and forced her to perform sexual acts.
Johnson was charged and re-booked in the Orleans Parish Prison where he was being held on the West Baton Rouge Parish warrant.
The second investigation began on Sept. 29 when the Special Victims Unit recovered a 17-year-old girl from a New Orleans hotel room as well. The girl had been missing for seven weeks. The investigation revealed that she was also forced to engage into prostitution during the time she was missing. As a result, an arrest warrant was issued for Lavalais.
On Nov. 2 the Kenner Police Department arrested Lavalais on an unrelated incident and was booked into the Jefferson Parish Corrections Center for the outstanding Orleans Parish trafficking warrant. After processing at the Jefferson Parish Corrections Center Lavalais will be transported to Orleans Parish Prison where he will be booked accordingly on the child trafficking warrant.
The investigation is ongoing and arrest warrants are pending for additional suspects.
Louisiana State Police was assisted by Homeland Security Investigation, Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office, the New Orleans Police Department and the Kenner Police Department in the investigation.