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Proud Boys leader indicted on Capitol riot charges

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Enrique Tarrio, who was not present at the Capitol riot, is accused of plotting the January 6 events

Enrique Tarrio, the head of right-wing organization Proud Boys, has been indicted on conspiracy charges for allegedly working to prevent the Electoral College from certifying US President Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory.

Tarrio was arrested in Miami on Tuesday for allegedly working with other Proud Boys leaders calling themselves the “Ministry of Self Defense” (MOSD) to plan the events of January 6. Tarrio and his colleagues allegedly amassed financial resources and tactical gear via fundraising sites, communicated about their intentions via encrypted messaging apps, encouraged rank and file Proud Boys to come to Washington that day, and visited the city themselves for reconnaissance purposes before the actual event.

The conspiracy charges extend to destruction of property and assaulting law enforcement, though Tarrio was not present when these occurred.  

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The 38-year-old Proud Boys leader was absent from the riot itself, having been arrested two days before for burning a stolen Black Lives Matter flag and possessing two high-capacity ammunition magazines the previous month. Released on January 5, he was ordered to keep away from Washington DC while awaiting sentencing.

However, instead of leaving the city immediately, Tarrio reportedly met that same night with Oath Keepers militia founder Stewart Rhodes, also subsequently charged with conspiracy, and several other individuals including some of his MOSD colleagues. They reportedly discussed the activities that would transpire the next day. During the meeting, according to the indictment, at least one participant referenced the Capitol.

Prior to his arrest for the flag-burning charges, Tarrio had met with several other Proud Boys members in December 2020 to create a new chapter tasked with “national rally planning,” which became the MOSD. The indictment alleges January 6th was the “national rally” in question, and mentions a nine-page planning document titled “1776 Returns” authored by “an individual whose identity is known to the grand jury.” 

By January 6th, Tarrio had left DC for Baltimore, just in time to avoid the riot, which saw hundreds of former President Donald Trump supporters descending onto the Capitol grounds to protest what they thought was a rigged election. 

Tarrio later pled guilty to the flag-burning and firearms charges, receiving a five-month sentence and earning his release earlier this year. 

A documented FBI informant since 2012, Tarrio had helped the agency make cases against over a dozen people before the January 6th riot. 

Tarrio testified before the January 6th committee earlier this month, though he primarily invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. 

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