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The apparent ringleader of a Dallas robbery/hate crime gang that targeted gay men on Grindr became the final co-conspirator to be sentenced to a lengthy prison term on Wednesday.
Daniel Jenkins, 22, was sentenced to 280 months — just over 23 years — in federal prison on Wednesday after pleading guilty to his part in the 2017 crime spree, according to the Justice Department. He was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit hate crimes, kidnapping, and carjacking; one hate crime count; and one count of use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
In legal filings, the defendant admitted to working with Michael Atkinson, 24, Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon, 19, and Daryl Henry, 24, to use the gay dating app Grindr to lure men to a vacant apartment in Dallas. Once the men arrived, they were beaten by the gang, taunted in homophobic ways, further assaulted and then driven to ATMs and forced to withdraw money from their bank accounts.
Jenkins was one of two men in the group who first created an account on Grindr in early December 2017 in order to lure their targeted victims into meeting, the Justice Department explained in its statement. At Jenkins' sentencing hearing, reported the Dallas Morning News, one of the victims said that Jenkins spent a considerable amount of time chatting on the app with him before the meeting was arranged.
On Dec. 11, 2017, the gang lured at least nine men to the vacant apartment, according to the Morning News' reporting. Once there, prosecutors say, the men were beaten with guns, robbed of their "wallets, money, car keys, cars, driver’s licenses, other identification, cellphones and credit cards," called homophobic slurs and then taken to ATMs to withdraw money from their accounts, according to the Morning News accounts of the sentencing of Jenkins' co-conspirators.
Court documents state that at least two of the men were urinated on by members of the gang, and one was sexually assaulted with a foreign object.
Jenkins reportedly told the victims that, since he had their IDs, he knew where they lived and would "come after them" if they reported the robberies, the Morning News reported in their coverage of his sentencing.
One of the gang's victims, however, escaped and alerted authorities. When they arrived at the apartment, they found four additional victims lying on the floor and in the closet of one of the bedrooms; one had a bruised and bloodied face. The four victims said the perpetrators had just fled out of the back door.
Prosecutors believe that Jenkins engineered the scheme because he believed gay victims wouldn't report the crimes to police, according to the Morning News.
"This defendant targeted innocent victims for violent crimes simply because he believed they were gay," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in a statement. "This sentence affirms that bias-motivated crimes run contrary to our national values."
The other co-conspirators, who pleaded guilty in 2019, were sentenced in June 2021. Ceniceros-Deleon received a 22-year sentence for: aiding and abetting in hate crime acts; aiding and abetting in carjacking; and aiding and abetting in the use of a firearm during a violent crime. Henry received a 20-year sentence for: one count of conspiracy to commit hate crimes, kidnapping and carjacking; and one count of aiding and abetting hate crime acts. Atkinson received 11 years and eight months for: one count of conspiracy to commit hate crimes, kidnapping and carjacking; and one count of aiding and abetting in kidnapping.
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