Enrique Tarrio, a leader of the right-wing street gang the Proud Boys, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on Jan. 6-related conspiracy charges.
The Washington Post was the first to report the charges. The indictment alleged that in December 2020, Tarrio and others in the Proud Boys created what the group referred to as a “Ministry of Self Defense,” and that this group took part in the Capitol attack. Tarrio himself was not near the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Tarrio made an initial appearance in court over Zoom Tuesday, and is set for an initial detention hearing on Friday.
The indictment charges Tarrio with conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting; civil disorder and aiding and abetting; destruction of government property and aiding and abetting; and assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers.
According to the indictment, the planning for Jan. 6 crystalized in late December. On Dec. 30, an unnamed person “known to the grand jury” sent Tarrio a nine-page document called “1776 Returns” that laid out a plan to occupy “crucial buildings” including House and Senate office buildings and other buildings around the Capitol, the indictment alleged.
“The revolution is important than anything [sic],” the individual allegedly said.
“That’s what every waking moment consists of,” Tarrio responded, according to the indictment. “I’m not playing games.”
On Jan. 2, Tarrio allegedly created an encrypted message group for members of the “ministry” that included at least 65 members, including several who were later charged with attacking the Capitol. The chat allegedly grew more specific over the next couple days, with members discussing what would happen if “1 million patriots stormed and took the capital building” and referring to the House of Representatives as “the main operating theater.”
On Jan 4, Tarrio allegedly posted a voice note stating, “I didn’t hear this voice note until now, you want to storm the Capitol.”
The others named in the indictment announced Tuesday were all members of the Proud Boys who had been previously charged with attacking the Capitol on Jan. 6: Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, Charles Donohoe, and Dominic Pezzola. They’ve all pleaded not guilty.
Tarrio was barred by a judge from being in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 — the result of a separate criminal case against him — but multiple Proud Boys members were subsequently involved in the attack.
Tarrio also allegedly met with the Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and others at an underground parking garage in D.C. ahead of the attack. The encounter lasted around 30 minutes, according to the indictment, which noted that “a participant referenced the Capitol” during the meeting. Reuters noted the meeting in a report last month.
What’s more, the Proud Boys leader allegedly maintained involvement in the plot to attack the Capitol after he was arrested and ordered out of D.C. On the morning of Jan. 5, co-defendant Biggs allegedly wrote to a new chat group, one of two that were created after Tarrio’s arrest and did not initially include him, “We just had a meeting woth [sic] a lot of guys. Info should be coming out” and then “Just spoke with Enrique.” Within a few minutes, Tarrio was added to the new chat groups.
The indictment does not detail Tarrio’s activities during the beginning of the attack itself. At 2:36 p.m., it noted, Tarrio posted on social media that he was “enjoying the show.” Two minutes later, he posted online again: “Don’t fucking leave.”
Tarrio allegedly exchanged messages with Nordean and Biggs at 2:53 p.m. and 2:54 p.m. respectively, then had a brief call with Biggs. A minute later, he allegedly posted a message on social media that “Revolutionaries are now at the Rayburn building,” a reference to a House of Representatives office building that, the indictment noted, had been referenced in the “1776 Returns” plan.
The indictment concludes late on the night of Jan. 6, with a video Tarrio allegedly posted on social media showing a masked man that resembled himself, standing in front of a deserted Capitol. The caption read, “Premonition.”
The Proud Boys leader told NPR last summer that he planned on stepping down from that role to focus on his local chapter of the group, which is known for its affinity for violence and street brawling with anti-fascists. The Justice Department press release referred to him as the “former national chairman” of the group.
Tarrio has a long legal history, going back more a decade, when his own attorney referred to him as a “prolific” law enforcement cooperator. In January, he was released from a D.C. jail after a four-month stint, the result of his pleading guilty to possession of a large-capacity ammunition feeding device, as well as to the destruction of a historically Black D.C. church’s Black Lives Matter banner.
Tarrio was arrested on Jan. 4 last year, two days before the Capitol attack, after he claimed responsibility for burning the banner, and subsequently ordered to stay out of the city.