The leader of the far-right group the Proud Boys was a “prolific” informer for both federal and local law enforcement, helping authorities prosecute more than a dozen people in drug, human smuggling and gambling cases, according to a new report from Reuters.
Enrique Tarrio, 36, a high-profile member of the extremist group the Proud Boys, allegedly became an informer for law enforcement authorities after his own arrest in 2012, according to a former prosecutor and a 2014 federal court transcript obtained by the news outlet.
Tarrio’s alleged role helping both federal and local prosecutors was chronicled by his defense attorney and a prosecutor during a 2014 hearing in front of a judge. It was requested that Tarrio and two others receive a reduced prison sentence after they had pleaded guilty in a fraud case to relabeling and selling stolen diabetes test kits.
Jeffrey Feiler, Tarrio’s attorney in that case, called his client during the hearing a “prolific” cooperator who had helped law enforcement in investigations surrounding anabolic steroids and “wholesale prescription narcotics.”
Feiler said he also aided in a human smuggling case “at his own risk in an undercover role.” As part of that investigation, Tarrio negotiated to pay $11,000 to members of the operation to bring in “fictitious family members” from another country and in another effort helped bring down three marijuana grow houses, according to the court transcript.
According to Feiler, a federal prosecutor and an FBI agent, he had helped authorities prosecute more than a dozen people as a result of his cooperation.
Tarrio’s role as an informant was also confirmed by former federal prosecutor Vanessa Singh Johannes, who wrote in a statement to Reuters 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, however, has denied the claims and said he never cooperated in cases against other people.
“I don’t know any of this,” he told the outlet when confronted with the transcript.
While he denied being an informer, he did say that his fraud sentence was reduced from 30 to 16 months, but claimed that the modified sentence was because he had helped investigators “clear up” issues in his case.
His past cooperation with law enforcement is striking particularly because he now serves as the leader of a group that is under law enforcement scrutiny and has been labeled an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, according to NPR.
Tarrio was arrested earlier this month in Washington, D.C., just days before the Capitol riot and charged with destruction of property in connection to allegations that he had destroyed a Black Lives Matter sign at a historic Black church at a December protest.
He was also charged with possession of high-capacity firearm magazines, which he had two of in his possession at the time. They had been emblazoned with the Proud Boys insignia.
A judge ordered Tarrio, who lives in Florida, to leave Washington, D.C. He did not participate in the Jan. 6 riot.
However, Tarrio did lead protests after the election, shouting that the White House had been “stolen” and burned the Black Lives Matter banner that had once hung outside the Asbury United Methodist Church, NBC News reports.
Johannes told Reuters that she was surprised by Tarrio’s active role in the extremist group.
“I knew that he was a fraudster — but had no reason to know that he was also a domestic terrorist,” she said.
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