‘Migrant influencer’ who encouraged border crossers to squat in US homes Leonel Moreno under investigation for gun charges

Leonel Moreno, the “migrant influencer” who mocked America on social media and encouraged migrants to squat in the homes of US citizens, is now facing potential federal firearms charges, The Post has exclusively learned.

Internal federal documents reviewed by The Post show the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have been in contact with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding Moreno, and are mulling charges against him.

The exact charges are not known, but sources said they would likely be brought under a section of the gun control act which prohibits those on parole from possessing, shipping, transporting or receiving any firearms or ammunition.

Moreno crossed into the US illegally in 2022 but was allowed to stay in the country on a Biden administration-approved parole scheme.

He was arrested by authorities on the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio, on March 29 after he failed to appear for required check-ins with officers, and months of his incendiary social media posts.

John Fabbricatore, a former ICE field office director for the agency in Denver, told The Post any possible further charges would “escalate” the case against him and possibly allow authorities to keep Moreno in custody longer.

If it were to pursue charges, the ATF would have to issue a warrant “mandating” Moreno to appear before a magistrate judge, Fabbricatore said, adding he would also have to be transferred into the custody of the US Marshals.

The Geauga County Jail confirmed to The Post Wednesday Moreno remains in their custody, where he is being held on behalf of ICE.

“Charges under [Gun Control Act section] 922.g are a serious matter and can result in significant legal consequences for Moreno.

“This should be a warning to any illegal aliens that possessing a firearm unlawfully will result in criminal charges and hopefully lead to a conviction,” Fabbricatore, who is also running for Congress in Colorado’s sixth district, said.

In several of his previous social media posts, Moreno could be seen holding and showing firearms in a gun store. He also waved around wads of cash, saying he was getting loads of government handouts.

In multiple previous Instagram posts, Moreno could be seen holding firearms at a store, asking followers “which do you like best.”

“Thank God I already have my license,” he said in one of the posts.

“If you want a gun you can buy them in stores,” he said in another post.

However, there is no proof he ever actually bought a gun and authorities have not released any information on what was seized from the hotel where he was staying when he was arrested.

Peter Forcelli, former special agent for the ATF, told The Post the bureau is likely seeking to pursue such charges against Moreno because he’s an illegal alien in possession of a firearm that was transported across state lines.

“Based on the fact that he’s advocating going into people’s homes and taking them over is incredibly concerning,” Forcelli said.

The ATF told The Post it can’t “confirm or deny information about potential or ongoing investigations.”

In a statement to The Post, an ICE spokesperson said: “Leonel Moreno is an unlawfully present citizen of Venezuela, who illegally entered the country April 23, 2022.”

“Moreno was placed into the Alternatives To Detention program by Border Patrol and was told to report to the Enforcement and Removal Operations office within 60 days of arriving at his destination.

“Moreno did not report as required. On March 29, 2024, Moreno was arrested in Gahanna, Ohio by officers with ERO Detroit’s Columbus office and is currently detained pending further immigration proceedings.” 

Internal ICE records reviewed by The Post showed that the agency knew that Moreno “has been on national news for being viral on TikTok encouraging illegal immigration.”

The Post spoke to Moreno’s tearful wife Sonesta Simply Suites Columbus Airport long-stay hotel in Gahanna, a suburb of Columbus, following his recent arrest. She said she hasn’t been allowed to see her jailed husband.

“We don’t know where they took him and I can’t see him,” she told The Post.

“I can’t give you any more information because I don’t know much.”

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