NEW ORLEANS - Five teenagers who were missing and endangered were found as part of a sex offender operation in the New Orleans area, federal law enforcement officials said.
The U.S. Marshals Service said 30 people were arrested, including 17 registered sex offenders, as part of "Operation Boo Dat." The joint operation ran from mid-October to Dec. 24 and included several area law enforcement agencies, officials said.
The teenagers who were found included a 14-year-old female with possible sex trafficking ties who was located at a motel in the eastern part of the city, according to the USMS. She was found with a 17-year-old female and a 15-year-old female staying in a motel room.
"The room smelled of marijuana and alcohol," the USMS said in a news release. "The girls advised that before moving to that room they were in another motel room with adult males from Baton Rouge, LA who left/stranded them to return to Baton Rouge, LA due to the adult men’s cousin being shot."
Two sisters, ages 15 and 16, were also found as part of the operation. They had been reported missing out of St. Tammany Parish and Baton Rouge. Officials said both "may be victims of adult(s) felony criminal sexual activities" and were located at an apartment in Baton Rouge.
Several of those taken into custody were arrested for failing to register as a sex offender, the USMS said. Operation Boo Dat included over 100 sex offender compliance checks, in which officers go to the person’s reported address to verify it.
Lights on a police cruiser are seen in a file image. (Credit: FOX Television Stations)
Among the 30 people arrested was Lorenzo Oliver on a December felony warrant from the New Orleans Police Department related to the alleged rape of a 12-year-old female victim in an abandoned residence on the West Bank of New Orleans, authorities said. Oliver was convicted in 2015 of attempted forcible rape and sexual battery in Jefferson Parish and must register as a sex offender for life, according to the USMS.
Lamonte Versill Morris was arrested on Oct. 29, who was wanted on a warrant out of Texas from June for alleged aggravated sexual assault on a 14-year-old female victim, authorities said. Morris had gone on the run knowing that he was wanted and was located by the USMS New Orleans Task Force at a home in New Orleans, officials added.
James Muse was arrested on Nov. 8 on a parole violation, the USMS said. Muse was on parole for "enticing persons under 17 into prostitution" in the New Orleans area and there have been "reoccurring allegations reported to law enforcement of him being involved in sex trafficking," officials said.
The USMS said it worked with several other law enforcement agencies as part of Operation Boo Dat, including the New Orleans Police Department, the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana State Police, and the USMS New Orleans Task Force.
Eastern District of Louisiana U.S. Marshal Scott Illing noted that the operation happened shortly after the death of a senior investigative operations official at the agency.
"This work was accomplished during an interrupted period shortly after the death of one of our area’s USMS Senior Inspectors, Jared Keyworth, who died in a line of duty automobile accident in Mississippi, and during post Hurricane Ida recovery and continuing COVID-19 issues," Illing said in a statement. "We believe that Senior Inspector Keyworth would be proud of the continuing work to reduce violent crime across the nation and dedicate the results of Operation Boo Dat 2021 to his memory."
This story was reported from Cincinnati.