The leader of the Proud Boys, who was arrested in Washington shortly before the Capitol riot, has previously worked undercover and cooperated with investigators after being charged with fraud in 2012, court documents show.
Henry “Enrique” Tarrio aided law enforcement in various investigations nearly ten years ago by providing information and going undercover, according to records.
The Proud Boys are a far-right, chauvinist extremist group that has taken hold of the policies of the Trump administration and has been a major agitator in previous protests and the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill. The Proud Boys have denounced a “deep state” and are working to shatter the current system of government, so Tarrio’s revelations as a federal informant came as a surprise.
Details of Tarrio’s cooperation, which were first reported on Wednesday by Reuters, were found in a transcript of a 2014 hearing in Florida federal court regarding his sentence for participating in a program involving resale of diabetic test strips.
Tarrio’s prosecutor and defense attorney both cited Tarrio’s extensive cooperation as arguing that his 30-month sentence should be reduced. The judge agreed to reduce his sentence to 16 months, according to records.
“Your Honor, frankly, in all the years, that is to say now over 30 years that I have been doing this, I have never had a client so prolific in terms of cooperation in any respect”, said Tarrio’s attorney at the time, Jeffrey Feiler, according to the transcript.
An email requesting comment was not immediately returned by a lawyer representing Tarrio in his current case. In an interview with Reuters, Tarrio denied ever cooperating with the authorities.
After Tarrio’s indictment in 2012, he helped the government prosecute more than a dozen other people, the federal prosecutor told the judge, according to the transcript. Tarrio’s attorney said he was the first accused to cooperate in the case, and he was also involved in various police undercover operations involving things like anabolic steroids and prescription narcotics.
“From the first day, it was he who wanted to speak to the police, wanted to erase his name, wanted to rectify the situation so that he could continue his life. And he actually cooperated significantly, ”the prosecutor said, according to the transcript.
Tarrio was arrested in Washington on January 4, two days before the pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol in an attempt to undo President Joe Biden’s victory.
He has been charged with vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner at a historic black church during an earlier protest in the nation’s capital. The banner was torn from the property of Asbury United Methodist Church, torn up and set on fire in December.
Tarrio was seen with video of the incident posted to YouTube, according to a police report. When police arrested Tarrio, officers found two unloaded magazines bearing the Proud Boys logo in his bag, with a capacity of 30 rounds each, authorities said.
Richer reported from Boston. Associated Press reporter Curt Anderson in St. Petersburg, Florida contributed to this report.