Three Texas men who used a dating app to target gay men to carjack, kidnap and commit other hate crimes have been sentenced to federal prison ranging from 11 years to 22 years.
A fourth Texas member of the group is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 6 for committing hate crimes against gay men. He faces a maximum of 26 years in prison.
“One of the FBI’s top priorities is to defend the civil rights of the communities we serve. We actively work with our law enforcement partners to investigate hate crimes and achieve justice for the victims impacted by these violent crimes,” said Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno of the FBI Dallas Field Office in a Thursday news release. “The victims in this case were specifically targeted because of their sexual orientation. The FBI wants to reassure the public that we will pursue individuals who commit violent hate acts against any member of our community.”
The three defendants targeted as many as nine men in and around Dallas for crimes such as kidnapping, assaulting and other hate crimes, according to federal court records.
While the victims were held at gunpoint, some of the victims were physically assaulted, at least one man was sexually assaulted, and all of the victims were taunted by gay slurs., federal authorities said.
The men sentenced on Wednesday included 28-year-old Michael Atkinson, 24-year-old Daryl Henry and 21-year-old Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon. Ceniceros-Deleon was sentenced to 22 years, Henry 20 years and Atkinson 11 years.
Federal authorities identified the fourth suspect as Daniel Jenkins, who is scheduled to be sentenced in October.
The group began on Dec. 6, 2017, to use Grindr, a social media dating app used primarily by gay men to lure men to a Dallas apartment complex, according to court documents.
When the men arrived, the suspects held the men at gunpoint, and forced them to drive to local ATMs to withdraw cash from their accounts.