Man at center of debate between ICE, sheriff faces federal kidnapping charge

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The man at the center of a debate between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office has been charged with kidnapping in federal court.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray announced Thursday that 37-year-old Luis Analberto Pineda-Anchecta, a Honduran national, was charged based on a federal criminal complaint.

The complaint says 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, the federal complaint says 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 the 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.

Police issued another warrant for his arrest after this incident, which eventually led to a lengthy standoff at a Charlotte apartment complex.

While announcing the federal kidnapping charge Thursday, U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray praised ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department for their investigation of the case.

Back in October, Channel 9 reported on a new push by federal prosecutors to prioritize cases with domestic violence ties, using federal charges to pursue stronger, tougher sentences.

Pineda-Anchecta was already in federal custody after being convicted of illegal reentry by a deported alien. He had been sentenced to seven months in prison.

He will appear in federal court Friday for the kidnapping charge, which carries a maximum term of life in prison.

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