Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio charged in January 6 riot to remain jailed until trial

Henry 'Enrique' Tarrio facing conspiracy charge for role in plotting attack on US Capitol

Henry 'Enrique' Tarrio has been indicted on conspiracy and other charges for his role in the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. AFP
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A leader in the far-right Proud Boys extremist group will remain jailed until his trial on charges that he remotely led a plot to stop Congress’s certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential victory.

In a Miami courtroom, US Magistrate Judge Lauren F Louis on Tuesday cited the danger that prosecutors say Henry “Enrique” Tarrio poses to the community. The judge said her decision would be explained in detail later in a written order.

Though he wasn’t at the Capitol with other members of the Proud Boys during the violent insurrection on January 6, 2021, prosecutors say Mr Tarrio created the leadership structure, organised the group of men and directed them to the Capitol.

They say Mr Tarrio organised encrypted chats with Proud Boys members in the weeks before the attack, had a 42-second phone call with another member of the group who was moving in and out of the building during the riot and took credit for the chaos at the Capitol.

Former Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio sits near a US Marshal during a hearing at federal court in Miami, Florida, in a courtroom sketch. Reuters

“This is a crime that struck at the heart of our democracy,” said prosecutor Jason McCullough. “It is difficult to imagine something that is graver than this crime.”

Mr Tarrio’s lawyer Nayib Hassan said his client was not at risk of fleeing from authorities and doesn’t have a violent background. He argued the evidence against Mr Tarrio was weak and relies mostly on text messages and social media.

“At no point in time did Mr Tarrio instruct anybody to go into the building,” Mr Hassan told the judge on Tuesday.

Mr Hassan said other people charged in the same alleged conspiracy and who were present at the Capitol during the riot have been allowed pretrial release. He also pointed out Mr Tarrio wasn't at the Capitol during the attack.

Police had arrested Mr Tarrio in Washington two days before the riot and charged him with vandalising a Black Lives Matter banner at a historic black church during a protest in December 2020.

The day before the Capitol was attacked, a judge ordered Mr Tarrio to stay out of Washington.

Instead of leaving town, Mr Tarrio’s indictment said he met with Oath Keepers founder and leader Elmer “Stewart” Rhodes and others in an underground parking garage for about 30 minutes. Prosecutors say a documentary film crew was in the garage and picked up audio of a person making a reference to the Capitol.

A week before the riot, an unnamed person sent Mr Tarrio a document that laid out plans for occupying a few “crucial buildings” in Washington on January 6, including House and Senate office buildings around the Capitol, the indictment says.

Mr Tarrio, who has since stepped down from his post as Proud Boys chairman, hasn’t yet entered a plea on charges of conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding and other counts.

On the morning of January 6, members of the Proud Boys met at the Washington Monument and marched to the Capitol before then-president Donald Trump finished speaking to thousands of supporters at a rally near the White House.

Right before Congress convened a joint session to certify the presidential election results, a group of Proud Boys followed a crowd of people who breached barriers at a pedestrian entrance to the Capitol grounds, an indictment says.

Several Proud Boys also entered the Capitol building itself after the mob smashed windows and forced open doors.

More than three dozen of the more than 750 people charged in the Capitol siege have been identified by federal authorities as Proud Boys leaders, members or associates.

Updated: March 17, 2022, 3:58 AM