Four men have been jailed after using Grindr to target victims in brutal homophobic attacks.
Anthony Shelton, 20, Nigel Garrett, 21, Chancler Encalade, 20, and Cameron Ajiduah, 19, were arrested in connection with a series of crimes in two Texas towns after using the dating app to arrange fake hook-ups with unsuspecting victims.
The court heard the men would travel to the victim’s homes and force their way in using guns before assaulting and restraining the victims, robbing them and shouting anti-gay slurs.
Shelton was handed a 20-year prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to hate crime charges.
Both Ajiduah and Garrett were jailed for 15 years while Encalade received a sentence of 10 years.
A federal grand jury returned an 18-count superseding indictment including charges for hate crimes, kidnapping, carjackings and the use of firearms to commit the violent attacks.
It also charged the defendants with conspiring to cause bodily injury because of their victims’ sexual orientation, Pink News reported.
Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division said: “The Department of Justice will not tolerate any act of violence targeting individuals based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, colour, religion, disability, or national origin.
“The Department will continue to investigate and prosecute hate crimes cases.”
US Attorney Joseph D. Brown for the Eastern District of Texas said: “This case highlights the danger of the internet and specifically, online apps.
“In this case, the defendants misused the internet for sinister purposes in order to target an innocent man based on his sexual orientation, causing him bodily harm and damage to his property.”