FBI arrests member of armed group stopping migrants U.S.-Mexico border

FBI arrests member of armed group stopping migrants U.S.-Mexico border

April 20, 2019– Mary Greeley News – TAOS, New Mexico (Reuters) – The FBI on Saturday said it had arrested Larry Hopkins, a member of an armed group of U.S. citizens who have been stopping migrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in New Mexico.

Hopkins, 69, also known as Johnny Horton, was arrested in Sunland Park, New Mexico, on a federal complaint charging him with being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.

Hopkins had represented himself as the commander of the United Constitutional Patriots (UCP), a volunteer group camped out near Sunland Park since late February. The UCP has posted videos showing their members holding migrants, many of them Central American families with children seeking asylum, until U.S. Border Patrol arrives to arrest them.

The group drew a complaint from the American Civil Liberties Union, and widespread media attention, after an April 16 video showed a group of around 300 migrants surrendering to the UCP at their camp.

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New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday said citizens had no authority to arrest or detain anyone and police and justice officials were looking into the UCP’s activities.

Hector Balderas, New Mexico’s attorney general, described Hopkins as “a dangerous felon who should not have weapons around children and families.”

FBI arrests member of armed group stopping migrants U.S.-Mexico border

“Today’s arrest by the FBI indicates clearly that the rule of law should be in the hands of trained law enforcement officials, not armed vigilantes,” Balderas said in a statement.

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Hopkins, of Flora Vista, New Mexico, is expected to have an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Las Cruces, N.M., on Monday, April 22, at 10:30 a.m. (1230 ET), the FBI said.

“There’s no question about whether or not we work with Border Patrol,” said Jim, a UCP spokesperson who declined to give his last name. “That’s all documented, and not just once. It’s documented hundreds and hundreds of times over in the videos that I post.”

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“U.S. Customs and Border Protection does not endorse private groups or organizations taking enforcement matters into their own hands,” a Border Patrol official told The Daily Beast.

Border Patrol is not supposed to interact with border vigilantes but has been documented doing so. A Mother Jones reporter who embedded with a border militia in 2016 witnessed the group getting information from Border Patrol agents.

The arrest was the latest fallout for the group. On Friday, the UCP Facebook group announced to its members that they no longer accept donations through PayPal, as the service has suspended their account.

PayPal and GoFundMe announced Friday that they would no longer allow UCP to raise funds on their platforms.

Mary Greeley News

credit: In part with https://www.thedailybeast.com/fbi-arrests-larry-mitchell-hopkins-leader-of-united-constitutional-patriots-border-militia