News & Politics

Proud Boys Leader Enrique Tarrio Charged With Conspiracy in Capitol Riot

The feds allege he directed Proud Boys' actions at the Capitol despite not being in DC on January 6.

Proud Boy leader Enrique Tarrio. Photograph by Evy Mages

Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was indicted by the US Department of Justice Tuesday on charges of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, destruction of government property, and other charges that relate to the group’s alleged involvement in the January 6, 2021, riot at the US Capitol. Five other members of the group who have been previously charged with crimes in connection with the siege of the Capitol on the day Congress certified Joe Biden’s election win over former President Trump are also named in the indictment.

The federal indictment alleges that Tarrio was at the center of an organized conspiracy to take over the seat of legislative power in the US. It relies heavily on social media posts by Tarrio and his fellow Proud Boys as well as encrypted messages among a group named the Ministry of Self Defense that the government says Tarrio and others created for the purposes of organizing Proud Boys actions on January 6.

Tarrio was not at the Capitol on January 6 but directed the actions of Proud Boys that day, according to the feds. He was arrested on January 4 on charges of property destruction as he entered DC. During the arrest, cops found two high-capacity firearm magazines, each emblazoned with Proud Boys markings, in his bookbag. High-capacity magazines are illegal in the District of Columbia. Tarrio said he planned to sell them. The property destruction charges relate to Tarrio’s presence at a pro-Trump rally in December 2020 when members of his group assaulted Washingtonians and ripped banners from local churches. He pleaded guilty to the charges last July, was sentenced to five months in the DC Jail, and was released in January.

Pro-MAGA forums and chats on messaging services were electric with plans to take over the Capitol in the days that preceded the January 6 riot. Tarrio, the indictment says, met with Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes on January 5 in the parking garage of DC’s Phoenix Park Hotel after he was released from jail and before he left town. Reuters reported last month that the FBI was investigating the meeting. The meeting lasted a half-hour, and “a participant referenced the Capitol” while it took place, the indictment says.

The indictment mentions the Proud Boys’ plan to forgo their customary black-and-yellow clothing on January 6 as well as their alleged acquisition of paramilitary gear, and it includes many, many posts that Tarrio and other Proud Boys made in encrypted chats as well as publicly. Tarrio was arrested in Miami and will appear in court there on Tuesday, the DOJ says.

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Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.