Dallas men plead guilty to hate crimes after using dating app to target gay men

Two Dallas men accused of using a dating app to target gay men for violent crimes pleaded guilty Thursday to federal hate crimes.

According to a release from the U.S. Justice Department, 24-year-old Daryl Henry and 19-year-old Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon were part of a group of men who conspired to use Grindr to lure gay men to a vacant apartment to rob them.

Documents related to the case allege the defendants created fake profiles on the dating app, which is primarily used by gay men. In December of 2017, they lured nine victims to the apartment. Several were held against their will, physically and sexually assaulted and called gay slurs.

The victims were forced to hand over their wallets, keys, cellphones and other valuable items. Four were kidnapped and taken to local ATMs, two were carjacked at gunpoint. The conspirators urinated and wiped human feces on one victim, the documents state.

Henry admitted he was among those who held the victims against their will in the apartment. Ceniceros-Deleon admitted he was among those who took the men to local ATMs and forced them to withdraw cash. Both admitted to taunting the men while holding them captive because of their sexual orientation, the court documents state.

“These defendants used Grindr to single out their victim based on sexual orientation – something the Northern District of Texas simply will not tolerate,” said U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox for the Northern District of Texas. “Unfortunately, this is not the first time a dating app user has fallen victim to a violent crime. I’m urging the public to be vigilant about the dangers lurking online.”

“Kidnappings, carjackings, thefts, sexual assaults, and armed, violent attacks against innocent people are heinous crimes, and when perpetrators commit those crimes against victims because of their sexual orientation, the U.S. Department of Justice will continue zealously to seek justice for the victims and to punish the perpetrators to the full extent of the law,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. 

Henry pleaded guilty to hate crime act, conspiracy to commit hate crimes, kidnapping and carjacking. Ceniceros-Deleon pleaded guilty to a hate crime act, carjacking and using a firearm during a violent crime. Both will be sentenced in April.

Daniel Jenkins, 20, and Michael Atkinson, 24, were also indicted in the case.

In March, Atkinson pleaded guilty to kidnapping and conspiracy charges. He will be sentenced in February. 

Jenkins pleaded not guilty. The U.S. Attorney’s Office did not give an update on his case.