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The Venezuelan illegal immigrant influencer who went viral with his TikTok videos urging other migrants to squat in people’s homes has been arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.

Leonel Moreno was arrested by ICE’s Detroit field office and is in federal custody, an ICE official told Fox News Friday. He was caught by the agency’s fugitive ops team in Gahanna, Ohio, Friday.

ICE later confirmed in a statement that he was arrested and is detained "pending further immigration proceedings."

Moreno had illegally entered the U.S. April 23, 2022, ICE confirmed to Fox News Digital Thursday. He was placed into the Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program by Border Patrol but had absconded from the program after failing to report to an ICE office within 60 days of arriving at his destination.

Venezuelan TikToker Leonal Moreno urged illegal immigrants to take over abandoned homes and invoke squatters' rights.

Moreno had previously claimed his family is receiving $350 a week in government handouts and that he is making over $1,000 a day as a TikTok influencer. His account, which had over half a million followers, had gone inactive earlier this week, but his presence on Instagram remained.

Moreno previously told his audience he planned to make a business out of "invading" abandoned houses and taking them over with squatters' rights laws, then selling them for a profit. He claimed some of his African friends have told him they have already taken seven homes in the U.S.

"I have thought about invading a house in the United States," he said in the TikTok video. "I found out that there is a law that says that if a house is not inhabited, we can seize it."

He had also mocked people who work for a living.


Leonel Moreno in three photos in montage

Leonel Moreno speaks to his followers in a combination of still images taken from video. (@Leitooficial_26/Instagram)

"You're hurt because I make more than you without much work while you work like slaves, understand?" he said. "That's the difference between you and me. I'm always going to make lots of money without much work, and you're always going to be exploited and miserable and insignificant."

The U.S. is in the third year of a historic migrant crisis at the border, which has included a significant number of arrivals from Venezuela. Venezuelans are difficult to deport to their home country, however, since the socialist government is not taking them back after having started accepting deportation flights directly from the U.S. late last year.

Only 834 Venezuelans were deported in fiscal year 2023, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) data, despite there being over 335,000 encounters at the border.

Venezuelans can still be removed to Mexico, but officials have told Fox that many then typically re-enter the U.S. as "gotaways."

Fox News' Michael Ruiz, Christina Coulter and Nikolas Lanum contributed to this report.

Desperation met stupidity on the corner of bad luck and despair, and the democratic party was born.

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