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Jailed Venezuelan Migrant Influencer Who Encouraged Squatting Claims He's Being 'Persecuted' After Getting Arrested by ICE

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Source: ICE; Tiktok

Apr. 7 2024, Published 4:30 p.m. ET

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In a video televisit from inside Geauga County Jail in Chardon, Ohio, Leonel Moreno, a Venezuelan national and self-proclaimed "migrant influencer," claimed he was a victim of "persecution" in the United States, has learned.

Moreno, known for his social media presence, with over 500,000 TikTok followers, urged those crossing the border to “invade abandoned houses.”

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Source: Tiktok

Leonel Moreno claims he's being 'persecuted.'

Moreno, 27, who had crossed the southern border into the U.S. with his wife Veronica Torres, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers in Columbus, Ohio, on March 29.

Despite being initially allowed to stay in the country under the Biden administration's parole program, he failed to comply with required check-ins, leading to his detention.

During the video visit, Moreno claimed, "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."

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Source: Tiktok

Leonel Moreno has over 500,000 followers on TikTok.

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

He further expressed concerns about his safety, stating, "I am afraid they're going to kill me. They're coming for my life — anyone!"

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Source: mega

Moreno could face gun charges as well.

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Additionally, Moreno might be facing federal firearm charges following his involvement in videos displaying firearms on social media.

Despite this, he maintained he was being unfairly targeted due to his online content, which he intended to fight for using his First Amendment rights.

Prior to his detention, Moreno's social media accounts encouraged migrants to come to the US and promoted making money through begging on the streets, sparking controversy.

He defended his actions by distinguishing between his on-screen persona and real-life self, stating, "The person who is in my videos, my character, is not the same person as Leonel Moreno."

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Source: radar

According to the New York Post, the Venezuelan national could also face federal firearm charges.

Moreno has insisted that he was thrown in the clink because of his inflammatory social media videos. He's also gone on to ironically vow to use the First Amendment to fight any charge they throw at him.

"If Leonel Moreno commits a crime or something then they would be right, but it’s because of my work, so this is unfair … Social media is my job," he said in the televisit. “If I want to say something now, I can’t say it … We’ve become an oppressive country instead of a free country where we can express whatever is in our hearts."

"The United States was created to be that, not to oppress."



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