The scheme took place in 2017, the Associated Press reported. According to court documents, Jenkins even admitted to physically assaulting at least one individual and taunting others about their sexual orientation. He also admitted to using a handgun to threaten his victims before taking their personal belongings, like their car and money.
Authorities also found that members of the group taunted their victims with gay slurs. One of the robbers even wiped feces on two people, according to court documents. Officials said that there were at least nine victims. Victims were allegedly threatened that they would be found if they reported the crimes to the police.
“These defendants brutalized multiple victims, singling them out due to their sexual orientation. We cannot allow this sort of violence to fester unchecked,” acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah of the Northern District of Texas said. “Unfortunately, predators often lurk online.”
Jenkins faces up to 26 years in prison and is set to be sentenced on Oct. 6. The other three men—Michael Atkinson, Daryl Henry, and Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon—have also pleaded guilty in connection with the case and are set to be sentenced on June 23.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time the dating app popular among gay singles has been used to commit hate crimes and target gay men. In a different case, some men used the app to conduct a series of home invasions in the same year of 2017, NBC News reported. The perpetrators were sentenced to between 10 and 20 years in prison, officials said.
“No one should have to live in fear of violence because of who they are, where they are from or what they believe,” FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno said in the statement.
“We will continue working with our law enforcement and community partners to detect and prevent violent incidents motivated by hate or bias,” he said. “We also urge the public to report any suspected hate crimes to the FBI and local law enforcement.”