The leader of the Proud Boys, a right-wing group, pleaded guilty on Monday to burning a Black Lives Matter banner and possessing a restricted firearm component.
Enrique Tarrio, 37, who lives in Miami, reached a deal with prosecutors and admitted to the charges before a Washington, D.C., superior court, according to the Washington Post. Tarrio was initially slapped with two counts of possessing a “high-capacity” magazine, which is forbidden in the Washington area, though authorities reduced the charges to one count.
He was arrested in early January, two days prior to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, following a Dec. 12 demonstration in the city that turned violent. Tarrio, flanked by other members of the Proud Boys, torched a BLM banner, which was later found to be stolen from an Asbury United Methodist Church. Law enforcement also discovered the ammunition magazines following a traffic stop of his vehicle.
Tarrio, who appeared in court virtually, said he would not have set the banner on fire if he had known it came from a church. He has not been accused of theft.
“If I’d have known that banner came from a church, it would not have been burned,” he said.
The flag-burning appeared to have been caught on video at the time.
A lot of Trump supporters, Proud Boys out in DC this afternoon for another pro-Trump march. More people are continuing to arrive: pic.twitter.com/FhacevkC8B
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) December 12, 2020
Tarrio was one of roughly three dozen people arrested following the Dec. 12 unrest, during which a total of four people were stabbed in a clash between left-wing and conservative groups outside a bar. Protesters vandalized multiple buildings and took to the streets around the time President Joe Biden was declared the victor in the 2020 contest, while former President Donald Trump insisted the election was rigged, a claim that has since been widely disputed by election authorities throughout the country.
At the time of his arrest, Tarrio vowed to plead guilty.
“I’ll fly there on my own dime,” Tarrio told the Washington Post while in Miami. “So, let me make this simple. I did it,” adding that he would not admit to a hate crime.
The Proud Boys leader made headlines in late January after he was found to be a yearslong confidential informant for various law enforcement divisions.
Tarrio apparently “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” after he was arrested in 2012, Vanessa Singh Johannes, who prosecuted his case, told Reuters.
Tarrio was identified as a “prolific” cooperator who provided information that netted at least 13 arrests related to steroid distribution, narcotics, and human smuggling after he was booked nine years ago for allegedly relabeling stolen diabetes medication, a former lawyer said.
Author : Jake Dima
Source : Washington Examiner : Proud Boys leader pleads guilty to burning Black Lives Matter banner and weapons charge