It was recently revealed that Enrique Tarrio, the Cuban-American leader of extremist organization the Proud Boys, previously worked as an informant for both local and federal law enforcement. In an exclusive report for Reuters by Aram Roston, transcripts and law enforcement officials confirm Tarrio repeatedly working undercover for investigators after he was arrested in 2012, according to a former prosecutor and a transcript of a 2014 federal court proceeding. Tarrio was arrested again earlier this month in Washington, DC, for allegedly burning a Black Lives Matter banner taken from a Black church last month during local protests after a “Stop the Steal” rally.
The Proud Boys has been associated with white supremacy and the group’s ideology has been labeled “misogynistic, Islamophobic, transphobic, and anti-immigration” by the Anti-Defamation League. They’re self-proclaimed “western chauvinists” and function against the ideas of political correctness and white guilt with a belief in “closed borders.” Tarrio, 36, was originally president of Miami’s Proud Boys chapter before being promoted to the group’s national chairman in 2018.
In an interview with Reuters Tuesday, Tarrio denied doing any undercover work or working in cases against others. “I don’t know any of this,” he said, when asked about the transcript. “I don’t recall any of this.” However, in a statement to Reuters, the former federal prosecutor in Tarrio’s case, Vanessa Singh Johannes, confirmed that “he 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.”
The prosecutor said Tarrio’s information had led to the prosecution of 13 people on federal charges in two separate cases, and had helped local authorities investigate a gambling ring, Reuters reported. During the hearing, the prosecutor and Tarrio’s defense attorney asked a judge to reduce the prison sentence of Tarrio and two co-defendants. They had pleaded guilty in a fraud case related to the relabeling and sale of stolen diabetes test kits.
There is no evidence Tarrio has cooperated with authorities since then. In interviews with Reuters, however, he shared that before rallies in various cities, he would inform police departments about the Proud Boys’ plans. He said he stopped this coordination after Dec. 12 because the D.C. police had cracked down on the group. Reuters reports it’s unclear if he actually did this.
In Nov. and Dec., Tarrio led the Proud Boys through the streets of D.C. after Trump’s loss. Video shows him on Dec. 11 with a bullhorn in front of a large crowd. “To the parasites both in Congress, and in that stolen White House,” he said. “You want a war, you got one!” The crowd roared. The next day Tarrio burned the BLM banner.