The 38-year-old leader of the so-called “Western Chauvinist” Proud Boys group has been arrested and charged with conspiring to organize the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Henry “Enrique” Tarrio was arrested in Miami on Tuesday, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.
It’s the second arrest of a high-profile leader of an extremist group in the federal government’s prosecution of Donald Trump supporters who violently overran police at the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to block Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election.
Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers extremist anti-government militia, was arrested in January in a seditious conspiracy case, the most serious charge yet in the Jan. 6 cases.
According to the indictment, which was handed down Monday, Tarrio launched a chapter of the Proud Boys in December aimed specifically at political rallies.
“Beginning in late December 2020, TARRIO and a handful of other members of the Proud Boys created a new chapter for the Proud Boys that would consist of members from across the country. The new chapter was referred to as the Ministry of Self Defense or MOSD (“MOSD”). TARRIO described the MOSD as a ‘national rally planning’ chapter that would include only ‘hand selected members.'”
The MOSD, prosecutors say, “began preparations for Jan. 6, 2021” almost immediately after it was formed.
Although Tarrio isn’t accused of breaching the building, prosecutors say he “led the advance planning and remained in contact with other members of the Proud Boys during their breach of the Capitol.”
A Meeting of the (Extremist) Minds: Tarrio and Rhodes Meet in a Parking Garage on Jan. 5
Tarrio had been arrested on Jan. 4 and charged with destruction of property for stealing and burning a Black Lives Matter banner at the Asbury United Methodist Church, a historically Black church in D.C. He pleaded guilty in July.
He was ordered to leave Washington at that time, but he didn’t, according to prosecutors. Instead, he allegedly met with Rhodes and “other individuals known and unknown to the grand jury” in a parking garage on Jan. 5, the night before the Capitol breach.
“TARRIO did not immediately comply with the order to leave the District of Columbia,” the indictment says. “After being turned away from the Phoenix Park Hotel, TARRIO travelled to a nearby underground parking garage, where he met with Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers, and other individuals known and unknown to the grand jury, for approximately 30 minutes. During this encounter, a participant referenced the Capitol.”
Tarrio left D.C. after that meeting, prosecutors say, but the “designated MOSD leaders, and other individuals whose identities are known to the grand jury, carried out the MOSD leadership’s objective.”
Prosecutors say that Tarrio subsequently “claimed credit for what had happened” at the Capitol on social media and in an encrypted chat both during and after the attack.
According to the indictment, part of Tarrio’s plan was to make sure, perhaps ironically, that the Proud Boys colors were not actually on display on Jan. 6.
Among the group’s tactics was “dressing ‘incognito’ on January 6, rather than wearing Proud Boys colors that had been prominently displayed at previous events,” the indictment said.
Tarrio and his co-defendants also allegedly raised funds to support travel to the Capitol ahead of Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally, obtained “paramilitary gear and supplies—including concealed tactical vests, protective equipment, and radio equipment—for the Jan. 6 attack,” and used handheld radios and encrypted messaging apps to “communicate and coordinate” the siege.
“I’m Not Playing Games.”
According to the indictment, Tarrio’s co-defendant Biggs messaged Tarrio on Dec. 19 that the Proud Boys “recruit losers who wanna drink,” and suggested that the group instead “get radical and get real men.”
The next day, Tarrio created the MOSD message group on an encrypted app, the indictment says.
The leadership of the MOSD group was split into “two 3-man councils,” according to the indictment: the “Marketing Council,” consisting of Tarrio and co-defendants Joseph Biggs and Ethan Nordean, and the “Operations Council,” which included Rehl and an unnamed individual identified only as “Person-3.”
Tarrio also created a messaging group to recruit potential MOSD members, stressing that they were expected to follow directions of MOSD leadership.
“Fit in  or fuck off,” Tarrio told them, according to the indictment.
Days later, the indictment says, Tarrio detailed plans to occupy buildings in D.C.:
“Between December 30 and December 31, 2020, TARRIO communicated multiple times with an individual whose identity is known to the grand jury. On December 30, 2020, this individual sent TARRIO a nine-page document tied, ‘1776 Returns.’ The document set forth a plan to occupy a few ‘crucial buildings’ in Washington, D.C., on January 6, including House and Senate office buildings around the Capitol, with as ‘many people as possible’ to ‘show our politicians We the People are in charge.’ After sending the document, the individual sated, ‘The revolution is important than anything.’ TARRIO responded, ‘That’s what every waking moment consists of… I’m not playing games.'”
On Dec. 30, on a call between MOSD leadership and prospective members, Tarrio’s co-defendant Zachary Rehl said that “January 6 was going to be a ‘completely different operation’ and that the Proud Boys would not be conducting a ‘night march and flexing our [arms] and shit.'”
The MOSD chat showed the Proud Boys’ confidence that they would not be stopped in their efforts to take the Capitol on Jan. 6
“On January 3, 2021, members of the MOSD exchanged messages in the MOSD Members Group various statements about attacking the Capitol,” the indictment says. “In response to the question, ‘what would they do [if] 1 million patriots stormed and took the capital building. Shoot into the crowd? I think not,’ PERSON-3 stated, ‘They would do nothing because they can do nothing.'”
News of Tarrio’s arrest on Jan. 4 appeared to spook the MOSD group somewhat, as participants in the chat were instructed to “manually delete each message from each chat” because leadership was “nuking that one.” A new MOSD chat, absent Tarrio, was then launched for the continued planning of Proud Boys activities at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Tarrio was later added to that chat the evening of Jan. 5, and the planning continued, according to the indictment.
Jan. 6: Tarrio Avoids the Capitol but Provides Encouragement and Support
On the day of the attack, Tarrio held back from storming the Capitol, but according to prosecutors, he wasn’t shy about celebrating the fact that his fellow Proud Boys had broken into the building.
“At 2:41 pm., TARRIO made a public post on social media that read, ‘Proud Of My Boys and my country,'” the indictment says.
Tarrio also allegedly attempted to communicate with other Proud Boys leadership and members who were there.
“While NORDEAN and BIGGS were moving in and out of the Capitol, TARRIO attempted to communicate with them by phone,” the indictment says. “TARRIO placed a phone call to NORDEAN at 2:53 p.m. and to BIGGS at 2:54 p.m. BIGGS had a 42 second call with TARRIO at 2:54 p.m. 106. At 2:57 pm., TARRIO posted a message on social media that read, ‘1776’ and then ‘Revolutionaries are now at the Rayburn building,’ which referred to a House of Representatives office building that had been referenced in the ‘1776 Returns’ plan received by TARRIO on December 30, 2020.”
The indictment ends its narrative with chilling imagery of Tarrio’s apparent mindset later that night.
“At 11:16 p.m., TARRIO posted a message on social media that featured a video of masked man resembling TARRIO, wearing a flowing black cape, standing in front of a deserted Capitol,” the indictment says. “The video was captioned, ‘Premonition.'”
Tarrio now faces seven charges total: conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding, obstruction of law enforcement during a civil disorder, destruction of government property, and assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers.
He’s named in a second superseding indictment in the case of Nordean, Biggs, Rehl, Charles Donohoe, and Dominic Pezzola. All of those defendants have pleaded not guilty.
The federal obstruction charges carry a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison upon conviction.
The federal obstruction charge may pose a challenge for federal prosecutors. While 10 judges on the D.C. circuit have denied motions to dismiss that charge from multiple Jan. 6 defendants, a judge just granted such a motion to dismiss on Monday.
Read the indictment, below.
[Images via Joe Raedle/Getty Images.]
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