‘Migrant influencer’ in custody after videos on legal loopholes

(NewsNation) — A man who came to the U.S. illegally from Venezuela is now in custody after going viral for bragging about getting free money from America and encouraging other newcomers to take advantage of U.S. laws protecting squatters.

In one TikTok video, Leonel Moreno, now being called the “migrant influencer,” explained squatting laws and suggested how to take advantage of them. His account has now been removed from the platform.

“I learned that there is a law that says if a house is not inhabited, then we can take it,” he said. “Here in the United States, terrain deformation also applies, and I think that will be my next business: invade abandoned houses.”

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Moreno crossed into the country illegally in April 2022 in Eagle Pass, Texas and was paroled, but authorities say he never showed up to his initial check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

When Moreno was initially processed, he was placed in the Alternatives to Detention program, where he was given a cell phone as a tracking device.

But because he didn’t follow the rules, Department of Homeland Security sources told NewsNation he was listed as a preorder absconder and was terminated from the program.

These sources later confirmed to NewsNation that Moreno was in custody.

Moreno has an order to appear in a Florida court in February of 2025, but authorities had trouble tracking him down. The address he initially provided was for Catholic Charities in Miami, but sources said he now has a possible address listed in Ohio.

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Also in Ohio, Fermin Garcia-Gutierrez is another man allegedly taking advantage of the system and gaps in intelligence.

Law enforcement in Butler County, Ohio, said Garcia-Gutierrez has been in Sheriff Richard Jones’ jail 11 times, using seven different names and three different dates of birth. According to Jones, Garcia-Gutierrez has been reported eight times, yet the 46-year-old keeps returning successfully.

Garcia-Gutierrez’s latest arrest was for possession of drugs and weapons while intoxicated and obstructing. His story is not the only one, with Jones saying since 2021, the county has housed nearly 1,000 immigrant inmates with ICE detainers.

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