(WVUE) - Two people were arrested and four children were rescued Sunday after troopers found a sex offender traveling with the children and their mother in Acadia Parish, according to Louisiana State Police.
At about 3 a.m., State Police were informed by the U.S. Marshals Service that a wanted California sex offender could possibly be traveling through Louisiana. Troopers learned that 37-year-old Joseph F. Moreno was wanted out of Dos Palos, CA, on charges of sexually assaulting a child. Moreno was believed to be traveling with 37-year-old Penny L. Rascon and her four children, ages 4, 6, 7, and 8. The children were all listed as missing out of California.
State Police broadcast the wanted person information to all law enforcement across a three-troop area along the I-10 corridor. Shortly after 7 a.m., two troopers from Troop I who had been working closely with the Marshals Service spotted Moreno at a convenience store off of Exit 76 near I-10 in Acadia Parish.
Troopers arrested Moreno and placed him in the rear of a police unit. Troopers located Rascon and her four children in a vehicle in the far corner of a parking lot near several 18-wheelers. Troopers arrested Rascon and took custody of the children.
State Police said it was evident the children were hungry and had not bathed in several days. Troopers purchased food and drinks for them and transported them to Troop I headquarters. While at Troop I, the children were given blankets, pillows and toys to play with, police said. Troop I Communications Specialists and several on duty troopers "cared for and visited with the children to make them feel comfortable and safe," according to an LSP news release.
Moreno and Rascon were booked into the Acadia Parish Sheriff's Office. Moreno was booked on an active arrest warrant from California for three counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14. Rascon was booked with child abduction. Both are awaiting extradition back to California.
The four children were released to Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services personnel.