The former chairman of the U.S. right-wing group the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, was arrested on Tuesday on a conspiracy charge for his alleged role in plotting the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol in a bid to block certification of President Joe Biden's election.
Tarrio, 38, will make his initial appearance in a federal court in Florida at 2 p.m. ET (1900 GMT), said Marlene Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami.
An attorney for Tarrio did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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Tarrio is one of the most high-profile of more than 775 people criminally charged for their roles in the attack on the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump. He was not on the Capitol grounds on the day of the assault, but is charged with helping plan and direct it. Other members of the Proud Boys removed Tarrio from their private chatrooms early on Tuesday after learning of his arrest, said a member of the group who asked for anonymity.
Eleven people affiliated with the Oath Keepers militia, including that group's founder, Stewart Rhodes, were charged in January with seditious conspiracy for their alleged roles in planning the attack. Tarrio was added as a defendant to a case naming other Proud Boy members Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Charles Donohoe, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola.
That case is tentatively slated to go to trial on May 18. Police in Washington on Jan. 4, 2021, arrested Tarrio on destruction of property charges connected to the Dec. 12, 2020, burning of a Black Lives Matter banner at a historic African-American church. He later served a four-month stint in jail for the charges. Tarrio was released from custody on Jan. 5, 2021, and ordered to stay out of the city as a condition of his release in the banner-burning case.
However, the indictment alleges that he did not immediately comply, and instead met with Oath Keepers leader Rhodes in an underground parking garage. Last month, Reuters reported that the FBI was investigating the details of the meeting between Rhodes and Tarrio.
Tarrio previously told Reuters the meeting was unplanned and he did not consider it to be significant. He also previously denied any Proud Boys planning ahead of Jan. 6. Although Tarrio did not storm the Capitol with some of the other Proud Boys, prosecutors say he nonetheless continued to direct and encourage his fellow Proud Boy members during the riots. He also allegedly claimed credit for what happened on social media, as well as through an encrypted chat room.
According to the indictment, Tarrio posted a number of incendiary comments to his followers about the 2020 presidential election. On Nov. 6, 2020, for instance, he wrote: "The media constantly accuses us of wanting to start a civil war. Careful what the fuck you ask for we don't want to start one … but we sure as fuck finish one. "Tarrio is charged with conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding, a fairly common felony charge that many Capitol rioters are facing. It can carry up to 20 years in prison on conviction.
Rhodes, by contrast, is facing charges of seditious conspiracy, a less commonly seen serious felony offense that criminalizes attempts to overthrow the government.