"We cannot allow this sort of violence to fester unchecked," said Acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah

By Chris Harris
June 04, 2021 11:50 AM
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Daniel Jenkins
Daniel Jenkins
| Credit: Dallas County Sheriff's Office

A Dallas man who used dating apps to target gay men in 2017 now faces up to 26 years in prison after pleading guilty to numerous criminal counts, including kidnapping and hate crimes.

Daniel Jenkins, 22, is the last of four defendants to accept a plea deal for masterminding "a scheme that targeted gay men on the dating app Grindr," according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Texas.

Jenkins is set to be sentenced on Oct. 6 following Wednesday's guilty pleas to one hate crime count, one hate crime conspiracy count, kidnapping, carjacking and one count of using a firearm during a crime of violence.

According to the statement, Jenkins admitted that he and his co-conspirators "used Grindr, a social media dating platform used primarily by gay men, to lure gay men to a vacant apartment and other areas in and around Dallas for robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, and hate crimes over the course of approximately a week in December 2017."

As part of the plea deal, Jenkins admitted that he and the other three men held victims against their will.

They also threatened the victims with guns, and took their personal belongings.

In addition, the cars of some of the victims were taken, and in some instances, victims were directed to withdraw money from ATMs.

"He further admitted that he and his co-conspirators physically injured at least one victim and taunted the victims based upon the co-conspirators' perception of the men's sexual orientation," reads the statement.

In March of 2019, Michael Atkinson, 26, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and kidnapping charges stemming from his involvement in the scheme.

Guilty pleas were entered in December 2019 by Daryl Henry, 25, and Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon, 20, to a federal hate crime and other charges in connection with this case.

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Sentencing for those three defendants is set for June 23.  

"These defendants brutalized multiple victims, singling them out due to their sexual orientation. We cannot allow this sort of violence to fester unchecked," said Acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah.

"The Department of Justice is committed to prosecuting hate crimes. In the meantime, we urge dating app users to remain vigilant. Unfortunately, predators often lurk online."