The man, Daniel Jenkins, dowas part of a group that used the Grindr app to lure gay men into a Dallas apartment complex to rob them and attackers, prosecutors said.
Texas man was sentenced to 23 years in federal prison on Wednesday for his connection in a scheme that used the popular dating app Grindr to target gay men for violent hate crimes, prosecutors said. Image Daniel Jenkins, 22, was the last of four defendants to be convicted in what prosecutors called a conspiracy to target gay men. Credit ... Sheriff's DepartmentCounty of Dallas
The man, Daniel Jenkins, 22, of Dallas, pleaded guilty in June to one count of conspiracy to commit hate crimes, kidnapping, carjacking, hatred created many times and one count of using a firearm during and in connection with it with a violent crime, the Ministry of Justice said in a statement .
Mr. Jenkins was the last of four defendants to be convicted of the conspiracy that used Grindr, a social media app primarily used by gay men.
A lawyer by Mr. Jenkins was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.
"This acknowledgment isTargeted innocent victims for violent crimes simply because he believed them to be gay, "Deputy Justice Attorney General Kristen Clarke said. The civil rights department of the department said in the statement. She added that the sentence "underscores the Department of Justice commitment to aggressively prosecute bias-motivated crimes, including against the lgbtqi community.
The scheme began in December 2017 when Mr Jenkins and a co-conspirator created profiles on Grindr to lure men to places they would steal them, the Justice Department said.
In an incident earlier this month, after the men arrived, conspiracy members held the men at gunpoint and forced them to drive to ATMs to withdraw money from their accounts, according to the Department of Justice.
In another incident this month, Mr Jenkins admitted, according to prosecutors, that he and others " lured several victims "into an apartment complex, the pointed with a handgun, stole their property and assaulted them, injuring one of them.
Mr. Jenkins told investigators that members of his group used homosexual slurs and mocked the victims and that a member attempted to sexually assault one of the victims, the Justice Department said .
Prosecutors said Mr Jenkins also admitted to taking part in the hijacking of at least one victim.
Mr. Jenkins' co-conspirators were Michael Atkinson, Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon and Daryl Henry, all in their twenties. The three men pleaded guilty in June and their sentences ranged from 11 to22 years old.
"Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, bigots are often in hiding online ", Chad Meacham, Interim US District Attorney for the North District of Texas, said in a statement. "We urge users of dating apps like Grindr to be vigilant.
Grindr is one of the many dating apps that have gained popularity among LGBTQ people users and have helped redefine the way they meet. Released in 2009, Grindr is a geolocated application that tells its millions of users around the world how far away they are.
In a statement Thursday, Grindr said he was always saddened to hear about the difficult experiencesand sometimes tragic experiences that members of our community have experienced both online and offline ".
The company added that it encourages its users" to be be careful when interacting with people they don't know ".
In its safety instructions , the company suggests that if anyone wants to meet another user of the app, "do so in public first, in a safe space like an LGBTQ + friendly cafe, and watch out for goods that you take with you. ”