Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, the leader of the extremist group Proud Boys, has a history of informing federal and local law enforcement agencies, repeatedly working undercover for investigators after his arrest in 2012, according to a former prosecutor. and a transcript of a 2014 Federal Court Proceedings obtained by Reuters.
Court records seen by Al Jazeera show Tarrio received a lighter sentence under Federal Criminal Procedure Rule 35 (b) (2) (B). This rule says: “If the government considers that a convicted defendant has provided substantial assistance in investigating or prosecuting another person, it can ask the court to reduce the original sentence.”
At the Miami hearing, a federal prosecutor, a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent, and Tarrio’s own attorney described his undercover work and said he helped authorities prosecute more. a dozen people in various cases related to drugs, gambling and human trafficking.
Tarrio, in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, denied working undercover or cooperating in cases against others. “I don’t know any of this,” he said, asked about the transcript. “I don’t remember any of this.
Law enforcement officials and the court transcript contradict Tarrio’s refusal.
In a statement to Reuters, former federal prosecutor in charge of the Tarrio case, Vanessa Singh Johannes, confirmed that “he has cooperated with local and federal law enforcement, to help prosecute those who run the other distinct criminal enterprises, ranging from running marijuana grow houses. in Miami to set up pharmaceutical fraud systems ”.
Tarrio, 36, is a prominent figure who organizes and leads the far right Proud boys in their confrontations with those they believe to be Antifa, short for “anti-fascists”, an amorphous left movement that often uses violence in confrontations with far-right demonstrators.
The Proud Boys participated in the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on January 6.
The files uncovered by Reuters are surprising because they show that a leader of a far-right group now under close scrutiny by law enforcement was previously an active collaborator with criminal investigators.
Washington Police stopped Tarrio in early January when he arrived in town two days before the Capitol riot. He was charged with possession of two high capacity rifle magazines and burning a Black Lives Matter banner during a demonstration in December by supporters of former President Donald Trump. The District of Columbia Superior Court ordered him to leave town pending a hearing date in June.
Although Tarrio was not involved in the Capitol uprising, at least five members of Proud Boys have been charged in the riot. The FBI had previously said Tarrio’s earlier arrest was an effort to anticipate the events of January 6.
The 2014 transcript sheds new light on Tarrio’s past ties to law enforcement. At the hearing, Tarrio’s prosecutor and defense attorney asked a judge to reduce the prison sentence for Tarrio and two co-defendants. They had pleaded guilty to a fraud case relating to the relabelling and sale of stolen diabetes test kits.
The prosecutor said Tarrio’s information led to the prosecution of 13 people on federal charges in two separate cases and helped local authorities investigate a gambling ring.
Tarrio’s attorney, Jeffrey Feiler, told the court that his client had worked undercover in numerous investigations, one involving the sale of anabolic steroids, another involving “wholesale prescription narcotics” and a third targeting human trafficking. He said Tarrio helped police uncover three marijuana grow houses and was a “prolific” cooperator.
In the smuggling case, Tarrio, “at his peril, in an undercover role got together and negotiated to pay members of this network $ 11,000 to bring in fictitious family members from another country, “the lawyer told the court.
In an interview with Reuters, Feiler said he did not recall the details of the case, but added: “The information I provided to the court was based on information provided to me by the law enforcement and the prosecutor.
At the hearing, an FBI agent called Tarrio a “key component” in local police investigations into marijuana, cocaine and MDMA, or ecstasy. The Miami FBI office declined Reuters’ request for comment.
There is no evidence Tarrio has cooperated with authorities since then. In interviews with Reuters, however, he said that prior to rallies in various towns, he would inform police departments of the Proud Boys plans.
We do not know if this was really the case. He said he stopped this coordination after December 12 because DC police cracked down on the group.
Tarrio admitted on Tuesday that his sentence for fraud had been reduced from 30 months to 16 months, but insisted the leniency was granted only because he and his co-defendants had helped investigators “clear up” the issues on its own. He said he never helped investigate others.
This comment contrasts with statements made in court by the prosecutor, his attorney, and the FBI. The judge in the case, Joan A. Lenard, said Tarrio “had provided substantial assistance in the investigation and prosecution of others implicated in criminal acts”.
As Trump supporters challenged the Republican’s electoral defeat in often violent protests, Tarrio stood out for his swagger as he led predominantly white Proud Boys crowds in a series of clashes and street brawls in Washington, DC, Portland, Oregon and elsewhere.
The Proud Boys, founded in 2016, started out as a group protesting against political correctness and perceived constraints on masculinity. It became a group with the distinctive colors of yellow and black that embraced street fighting. In September, their profile exploded when Trump called on them to “take a step back and stay away.”
Miami-based Tarrio became the group’s national president in 2018.
In November and December, Tarrio led the Proud Boys through the streets of DC after the loss of Trump. The video shows him on December 11 with a megaphone in front of a large crowd. “To the parasites in Congress and in that stolen White House,” he said. “You want a war, you have one!” The crowd roars. The next day, Tarrio burned the BLM banner.
Former prosecutor Johannes said he was surprised that the accused she was prosecuting for fraud is now a key player in the violent movement that sought to end President Joe Biden’s certification.
“I knew he was a fraudster – but I had no reason to know he was also a domestic terrorist,” she said.