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Proud Boys leader was ‘prolific’ informer for law enforcement

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Enrique Tarrio is the leader of the extremist group the Proud Boys -- he's also has a "prolific" past as an informer for federal and local law enforcement, repeatedly working undercover for investigators after he was arrested in 2012.

That's according to a former prosecutor and a transcript of a 2014 federal court proceeding obtained by Reuters.

In a hearing in Miami, a federal prosecutor, an FBI agent and Tarrio’s own lawyer described his undercover work, saying he had helped authorities prosecute more than a dozen people in various cases involving drugs, gambling and human smuggling. Tarrio’s lawyer said in court that his client was a “prolific” cooperator.

Tarrio, in an interview with Reuters Tuesday, denied working undercover or cooperating in cases against others. “I don’t know any of this,” he said, when asked about the transcript, adding quote, “I don’t recall any of this.”

Law-enforcement officials and the court transcript contradict Tarrio’s denial.

The 36-year-old Tarrio is a high-profile figure who organizes and leads the right-wing Proud Boys in their confrontations with those they believe to be Antifa. In many pictures members of The Proud Boys, clad in their signature yellow outfits, can often be seen flashing the white power sign.

Washington police arrested Tarrio in early January when he arrived in the city two days before the Capitol Hill riot. He was charged with possessing two high-capacity rifle magazines, and burning a Black Lives Matter banner during a December demonstration by supporters of former President Donald Trump. The D.C. Superior Court ordered him to leave the city pending a court date in June.

Though Tarrio did not take part in the Capitol insurrection, at least five Proud Boys members have been charged in the riot.

The former federal prosecutor in Tarrio’s case, Vanessa Singh Johannes, said she was surprised that the defendant she prosecuted for fraud is now a key player in the violent movement that sought to halt the certification of President Joe Biden.

“I knew that he was a fraudster," she said, "but had no reason to know that he was also a domestic terrorist."

Video Transcript

- Enrique Tarrio is the leader of the extremist group the Proud Boys. He also has a, quote, "prolific" past as an informer for federal and local law enforcement, repeatedly working undercover for investigators after he was arrested in 2012. That's according to a former prosecutor, and a transcript of a 2014 federal court proceeding obtained by Reuters.

In a hearing in Miami, a federal prosecutor, an FBI agent, and Tarrio's own lawyer described his undercover work, saying he had helped authorities prosecute more than a dozen people in various cases involving drugs, gambling, and human smuggling. Tarrio's lawyer said in court that his client was a, quote, "prolific" cooperator.

In an interview with Reuters Tuesday, Tarrio denied working undercover or cooperating in cases against others. Quote, "I don't know any of this," he said, when asked about the transcript, adding, quote, "I don't recall any of this." Law enforcement officials, and the court transcript, contradict Tarrio's denial.

The 36-year-old is a high-profile figure, who organizes and leads the right-wing Proud Boys in their confrontations with those they believe to be Antifa. In many pictures members of the Proud Boys, clad in their signature yellow outfits, can often be seen flashing the white power sign. Washington police arrested Tarrio in early January, when he arrived in the city two days before the Capitol Hill riot. He was charged with possessing two high-capacity rifle magazines, and burning a Black Lives Matter banner, during a December demonstration by supporters of former President Donald Trump. The D.C. Superior Court ordered him to leave the city, pending a court date in June. Though Tarrio did not take part in the Capitol Insurrection, at least five Proud Boys members have been charged in the riot.

The former federal prosecutor in Tarrio's case, Vanessa Singh Johannes, said she was surprised that the defendants she prosecuted for fraud is now a key player in the violent movement that sought to halt the certification of President Joe Biden. Quote, "I knew that he was a fraudster," she said but, quote, "had no reason to know that he was also a domestic terrorist."