CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A U.S. attorney announced Tuesday that 38-year-old Luis Pineda-Anchecta, a man from Honduras who was at the center of a 2019 conflict between ICE and Mecklenburg County’s sheriff, has been convicted of kidnapping following a two-day trial.
According to filed court documents, evidence presented at trial and witness testimony, on or about May 15, 2019, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officers arrested Pineda-Anchecta on several state charges, including assault on a female and communicating threats.
Two days following his arrest, Pineda-Anchecta was released from state custody on bond.
On May 21, 2019, the female victim was approached by two masked men as she was walking to her vehicle parked at her apartment complex in Charlotte. The victim recognized one of the masked men as the Pineda-Anchecta, who allegedly proceeded to grab the victim by the arm, stuff a cloth in her mouth, and then wrap a cord or rope around her head so the cloth would stay in place. Court documents say that Pineda-Anchecta and the other masked man then forced the female victim against her will into the passenger seat of a vehicle. Pineda-Anchecta then told the female victim“I love you and I’m going to kill you.” The other masked individual did not accompany Pineda-Anchecta and the female in the vehicle.
According to court documents, Pineda-Anchecta drove his vehicle on Lancaster Highway. While driving, court documents say that he held a tight grip on the plastic rope tied around the victim’s face. After driving a short while on Lancaster Highway, Pineda-Anchecta parked his vehicle on the side of the road near a wooden area and turned off the engine. Court documents say that he held his grip on the plastic rope around the female victim’s face, pulled her out of the car and dragged her toward the wooded area near the road.
Following a struggle, the female victim was able to escape and run into the middle of the highway, and was assisted by drivers who stopped to offer help. According to court documents, the female victim identified Pineda-Anchecta as the person who had assaulted her.
Pineda-Anchecta reportedly left the scene on foot. After obtaining a search warrant, CMPD officers searched his vehicle, from which they recovered a spool of plastic rope similar to the rope wrapped around the victim’s face during the course of the kidnapping. Law enforcement also located the victim’s phone in Pineda-Anchecta’s vehicle.
Pineda-Anchecta is currently in federal custody. He was previously convicted of illegal reentry by a deported alien, and, on Jan. 7, 2020, he was sentenced to seven months in prison. The kidnapping charge carries a maximum term of life in prison. A sentencing date has not been set.
“In making today’s announcement U.S. Attorney Murray commended ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations and CMPD for their investigation of this case. He also thanked ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations for their assistance.,” a press release from the DOJ reads.
In May 2019, Pineda-Anchecta was was arrested twice by police, with the second arrest coming at the end of an hours-long standoff with CMPD’s SWAT team. The fact that Pineda-Ancheta was released from the Mecklenburg County Jail after his second arrest in May became a point of contention in the months-long disagreement between Sheriff Gary McFadden and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Andrew Murray, the United States Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, was critical of the Mecklenburg County Sheriff on Tuesday, as his office filed a federal criminal charge against Pineda-Anchecta.
McFadden campaigned on a platform that included ending a controversial program where county deputies checked the immigration status of people who ended up at the jail, known as 287(g). At the same time, McFadden also announced that he would no longer honor ICE detainers, which are a mechanism by which federal immigration authorities ask local jails to hold people who are suspected of being in the county illegally for additional time after they post bond.
ICE said such a detainer was in place when Pineda-Ancheta was released from the Mecklenburg County jail twice last month.
The June 2019 complaint filed by the US Attorney’s Office charges Pineda-Ancheta with one count of re-entry by a deported alien.
The federal complaint said Pineda-Ancheta was removed from the country in December 2006 and there are no records showing he was ever given authorization to re-enter the United States. In an interview with WBTV, Murray said he filed the federal action after Pineda-Ancheta was released a second time from state custody without honoring the ICE detainer.