Man at center of debate between ICE, sheriff sentenced to 20 years for 2019 kidnapping

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A man whose arrest for domestic violence led to an immigration debate between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office will spend 20 years behind bars for a 2019 kidnapping.

On Tuesday, a judge sentenced 37-year-old Luis Pineda-Anchecta to 240 months in prison and five years of supervised release.

Pineda-Anchecta was arrested May 15, 2019 on several state charges after assaulting and threatening his ex-girlfriend.

ICE issued a detainer on Pineda-Anchecta, who was in the country illegally from Honduras, but he was released by the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office on bond two days after being taken into custody.

On May 21, court documents said Pineda-Anchecta and another man in a mask approached the victim as she was walking outside her apartment complex. He grabbed her, stuffed a cloth in her mouth and wrapped a cord or rope around her head, according to a federal complaint.

The complaint said Pineda-Anchecta forced the victim into a vehicle saying, “I love you and I’m going to kill you.” He drove a short while on Lancaster Highway before parking his car and dragging the victim toward a wooded area, according to the complaint.

The victim was reportedly able to escape and run into the middle of the highway, where she was helped by drivers passing by.

Pineda-Anchecta got out of jail on bond prior to the attack because Mecklenburg County Jail ended its cooperation with 287(g), a program that allows deputies to run a suspect’s name through a database and hold an undocumented immigrant for ICE.

In determining Tuesday’s sentence, the judge noted that the incident was “a series of violent acts between the defendant and victim that escalated over time and culminated into this offense,” according to court documents. The judge also enhanced the sentence after noting that “this was not a mere kidnapping, but that the defendant intended to kill the victim.”

Pineda-Anchecta is currently in federal custody and will be transferred to the custody of the federal Bureau of Prisons once he is assigned to a facility. He will also have to go through deportation proceedings once he finishes his sentence. Pineda-Anchecta was previously convicted of illegal reentry by a deported alien and was sentenced to seven months in prison.

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