Tyler Durden, While US officials claim that ‘far-right extremism’ is one of the largest threats facing America, the leader of the group most commonly singled out as an example – the Proud Boys – was a ‘prolific’ informant for federal and local law enforcement, according to Reuters, citing a 2014 federal court proceeding.
Enrique Tarrio repeatedly worked undercover for investigators following a 2012 arrest, court documents reveal.
Curiously, Tarrio was ordered to stay away from Washington D.C. one day before the January 6 Capitol riot after he was arrested on vandalism and weapons charges – upon a request by government prosecutors that he be prohibited from attending. At least five Proud Boys members were charged as part of the riot.
In the 2014 hearing, a federal prosecutor, an FBI agent and Tarrio’s attorney describe his undercover work – noting that the Proud Boys leader helped authorities prosecute over a dozen people in various cases involving drugs, gambling and human smuggling, accoding to Reuters.
In a Tuesday interview with Reuters, Tarrio denied working undercover or cooperating in cases.
“I don’t know any of this,” he said, adding “I don’t recall any of this.”
Law-enforcement officials and the court transcript contradict Tarrio’s denial. In a statement to Reuters, the former federal prosecutor in Tarrio’s case, Vanessa Singh Johannes, confirmed that “he cooperated with local and federal law enforcement, to aid in the prosecution of those running other, separate criminal enterprises, ranging from running marijuana grow houses in Miami to operating pharmaceutical fraud schemes.”
Tarrio, 36, is a high-profile figure who organizes and leads the right-wing Proud Boys in their confrontations with those they believe to be Antifa, short for “anti-fascism,” an amorphous and often violent leftist movement. The Proud Boys were involved in the deadly insurrection at the Capitol January 6.
The records uncovered by Reuters are startling because they show that a leader of a far-right group now under intense scrutiny by law enforcement was previously an active collaborator with criminal investigators. –Reuters
During Tarrio’s 2014 hearing, both the prosecutor and Tarrio’s defense attorney asked for a reduced prison sentence after pleading guilty in a fraud case related to the relabeling and sale of stolen diabetes test kits. In requesting leniency for Tarrio and two co-defendants, the prosecutor noted that Tarrio’s information had resulted in the prosecution of 13 people on federal charges in two separate cases, and helped local authorities investigate a gambling ring.
Tarrio’s former attorney, Jeffrey Feiler, noted that his client worked undercover several times – one involving “wholesale prescription narcotics,” another involving the sale of anabolic steroids, and a third involving human smuggling. Tarrio also helped police uncover three marijuana grow houses, and was a “prolific” cooperator, according to the report.
In the smuggling case, Tarrio, “at his own risk, in an undercover role met and negotiated to pay $11,000 to members of that ring to bring in fictitious family members of his from another country,” the lawyer said in court.
In an interview, Feiler said he did not recall details about the case but added, “The information I provided to the court was based on information provided to me by law enforcement and the prosecutor.”
An FBI agent at the hearing called Tarrio a “key component” in local police investigations involving marijuana, cocaine and MDMA, or ecstasy. The Miami FBI office declined comment. –Reuters
Reuters notes that there is no evidence Tarrio has cooperated with authorities since his previous involvement, however he admitted to notifying local law enforcement prior to Proud Boys rallies in various cities – letting police know of the group’s plans. Tarrio said he stopped this coordination after December 12 due to the DC police cracking down on the group.
Tarrio’s involvement with law enforcement will no doubt fuel speculation over just how ‘organic’ the threat of ‘far-right extremism’ is, particularly when the vast majority of violence observed over 2020 was committed by far-left groups rioting in the name of racial justice.