Jailed 'Migrant Influencer' Who Encouraged US Invasion Claims 'Persecution'

By Jason Hall

April 7, 2024

Photo: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Leonel Moreno, the "migrant influencer" who encouraged others to invade the United States and squat at the homes of citizens on social media, claimed he's the victim of "persecution" in an exclusive interview with the New York Post.

“I came here to the United States because of persecution in my country … But they’re doing the same thing to me in the United States – persecuting me,” Moreno said during a 30-minute video televisit from inside Geauga County Jail in Chardon, Ohio.

“It’s all misinformation in the media about me. They’re defaming me. They’re misrepresenting me in the news … I am a good father, a good husband, a good son, a good person, humble, respectful to people who respect me,” he added.

Moreno, 27, a Venezuelan national who illegally crossed the U.S. southern border at Eagle Pass, Texas, in April 2022, reportedly faces potential federal firearms charges amid his recent arrest, according to internal federal documents reviewed by the New York Post last week. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has reportedly been communicating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding possible charges against Moreno, the documents confirmed.

The exact charges have not been determined, however, sources said they are expected to be brought under a section of the Gun Control Act prohibiting individuals on parole from possessing, shipping, transporting or receiving firearms or ammunition. Moreno was seen holding and showing off firearms on his social media accounts in which he mocked Americans, though there is no proof he ever actually purchased a weapon and authorities haven't yet released information regarding what was seized from a hotel during his recent arrest.

The migrant was reportedly detained in Columbus and being held at Geauga County Jail, the records stated. Moreno reportedly broke the rules of the Alternatives to Detention program he was enrolled in, which allows federal authorities to track migrants using ankle monitors and various other technology, and is now considered an "absconder" from the program, ICE documents viewed by the New York Post prior to his arrest confirmed.

Moreno posted several videos online prior to his arrest, which included making claims that he, his wife and daughter receive $350 from the federal government weekly, as well as ranting in front of a Gahanna Police Department vehicle in suburban Columbus, Ohio.

“To date, our agency has had no contact with this individual and we are unaware of his location," Gahanna Police officials told the Post while confirming their awareness of the videos.

Moreno was originally released into the U.S. on parole due to a lack of space in detention facilities and seen living in Columbus, while his listed point of contact was Catholic Charities in Miami, according to the ICE documents seen by the Post. ICE in Miami mailed Moreno an immigration court date in November 2022 after he had previously no-showed, sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed to the Post.

Moreno has encouraged "fellow Venezuelans" to squat in the homes of U.S. citizens on his TikTok account and flaunted supplies that he's claimed to have purchased with food stamps. The migrant has also shared posts waving a Social Security card and claiming he made about $1,000 a day from begging for money.

“I don’t like to work,” he tells followers. “Boys, in the US there are a million tricks, a million things to do,” Moreno said in a video.

“I’ve concluded that the American Dream is real,” he said in a separate post, adding that he never worked in the first year he lived in the U.S. “This is food of the best quality that they just give you.”

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