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Enrique Tarrio, who led the Proud Boys, is arrested over the U.S. Capitol attack

The Justice Department says that as the leader and creator of a special chapter of the Proud Boys known as the Ministry of Self Defense, Enrique Tarrio "led the advance planning and remained in contact with other members of the Proud Boys during their breach of the Capitol."
John Rudoff
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AFP via Getty Images
The Justice Department says that as the leader and creator of a special chapter of the Proud Boys known as the Ministry of Self Defense, Enrique Tarrio "led the advance planning and remained in contact with other members of the Proud Boys during their breach of the Capitol."

Updated March 8, 2022 at 5:46 PM ET

Enrique Tarrio, who was the chairman of the far-right extremist group the Proud Boys, was arrested and charged with conspiracy for his alleged role in planning the Jan. 6 attack, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday.

He is one of the most prominent defendants yet to face charges over his alleged involvement in the insurrection.

Although Tarrio is not accused of physically taking part in the breach of the Capitol – or even being in Washington D.C. at the time – the Justice Department said Tarrio "conspired to corruptly obstruct, influence, and impede an official proceeding, the certification of the Electoral College vote."

As the leader and creator of a special chapter of the Proud Boys known as the Ministry of Self Defense, the 38-year-old "led the advance planning and remained in contact with other members of the Proud Boys during their breach of the Capitol," according to prosecutors.

The Justice Department also said he claimed credit for the attack on social media and in an encrypted chat room during and after the attack.

Tarrio was indicted on one count of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and another count of obstruction of an official proceeding. He also faces two counts each of assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers and destruction of government property.

Court documents state that Tarrio was kept from participating in the Capitol riot after he pleaded guilty to stealing and burning a Black Lives Matter banner that was hanging from a D.C. church, and for bringing a high capacity magazine into the District. A condition of his release on Jan. 5, 2021, was that he stay out of Washington.

Tarrio was arrested in Miami and is scheduled to make his initial court appearance in the Southern District of Florida. Tarrio's lawyer did not immediately respond to NPR's request for comment.

Since the insurrection, the Justice Department has arrested more than 775 individuals in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the events of that day. More than 245 of them have been charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.

More recently, prosecutors have filed charges against leaders of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers — extremist groups that officials have long said were involved in the attack.

In January, federal prosecutors announced seditious conspiracy charges against Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes. The charge carries a maximum of 20 years in prison. It is the most serious and sweeping case to emerge from the federal investigation.

On the same day as Tarrio's arrest, a jury found the defendant guilty in the first trial over the events of Jan. 6.

Guy Wesley Reffitt of Texas was found guilty of traveling to Washington with a fellow member of a far-right militia organization called the Texas Three Percenters.

Experts say the unanimous guilty verdict will likely influence how hundreds of other defendants will approach their own cases. As NPR's Tom Driesbach reported, "it is widely believed that this victory will give prosecutors additional leverage in plea negotiations with other defendants."

Tarrio was named in a superseding indictment returned Monday in the District of Columbia, along with five previously charged defendants – Ethan Nordean, 31, of Auburn, Washington; Joseph Biggs, 38, of Ormond Beach, Florida; Zachary Rehl, 36, of Philadelphia; Charles Donohoe, 34, of Kernersville, North Carolina; and Dominic Pezzola, 44, of Rochester, New York.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.