Enrique Tarrio, leader of the violent far-right group Proud Boys, has had a "prolific" working relationship with the FBI, federal prosecutors and police going back to at least 2012, according to documents uncovered by Reuters.
“I knew that he was a fraudster – but had no reason to know that he was also a domestic terrorist,” federal prosecutor Vanessa Singh Johannes told Reuters of Tarrio on Wednesday.
While many online derisively called Tarrio a "rat," others raise questions about what federal authorities knew about Tarrio's work with the violent white nationalist group, which participated in the Jan. 6 attack on Congress and previously desecrated Black churches in Washington, D.C., among a host of other violent crimes committed across the country, as Blavity previously reported.
On Wednesday, reporters with Reuters found a transcript of a 2014 federal court proceeding and spoke with Johannes about Tarrio's work with authorities.
Tarrio was arrested in 2012 and eventually pleaded guilty after he was implicated in a scheme to relabel and sell stolen diabetes test kits. In the transcript of a 2014 hearing in Miami, Tarrio's own lawyer asked for a lower sentence because he was a "prolific" collaborator with the FBI on a variety of other cases related to drug smuggling, steroid sales and human trafficking.
Johannes said Tarrio "cooperated with local and federal law enforcement, to aid in the prosecution of those running other, separate criminal enterprises, ranging from marijuana grow houses in Miami to operating pharmaceutical fraud schemes.”
Prosecutors in the transcript seen by Reuters said Tarrio's information helped them arrest, charge and jail 13 people on federal charges.
Jeffrey Feiler, Tarrio's lawyer, said that “at his own risk, in an undercover role met and negotiated to pay $11,000 to members of that ring to bring in fictitious family members of his from another country.”
“Your Honor, frankly, in all the years, which is now more than 30 that I’ve been doing this, I’ve never had a client as prolific in terms of cooperating in any respect,” Feiler said in the transcript, according to The Associated Press.
An FBI agent who testified in one case said Tarrio was a “key component” in another case involving local police and federal authorities trying to shut down a gang selling marijuana, cocaine and MDMA.
Tarrio “provided substantial assistance in the investigation and prosecution of other persons involved in criminal conduct,” according to Joan A. Lenard, the judge in his 2012 case.
It is unclear whether Tarrio has worked with federal authorities in his current capacity as national chairman of the Proud Boys — which has been declared a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — but in an interview with Reuters, Tarrio himself admitted that he coordinated the violent group's rallies with local police beforehand.
Tarrio was arrested in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 4 as police anticipated he would be involved in what ended up being the Jan. 6 attempted coup at the Capitol Building, as Blavity previously reported.
He was charged for his actions in December, when he and a gang of roving Proud Boys members roamed through Washington, D.C., tearing down Black Lives Matter signs and setting fire to one banner belonging to a historic Black church.
As they set the fires and walked through the streets, Tarrio held a bullhorn and said, “To the parasites both in Congress and in that stolen White House. You want a war, you got one!”
Video of the incident went viral, and when asked about the vandalism and burning of the sign a week later, he said he was "damn proud" to have done it.
— Brendan Gutenschwager (@BGOnTheScene) December 13, 2020
Police hit Tarrio with one misdemeanor count of destruction of property but during the arrest, found him with gun-related tools and charged him with an additional two felony counts of possession of high-capacity ammunition feeding devices, according to The Washington Post.
In his interview with Reuters, Tarrio said, “I don’t recall any of this” when asked about his relationship with federal authorities.
Five official members of the Proud Boys have now been charged by federal authorities for their role in storming the Capitol Building with pipe bombs, heavy arms and zip-tie handcuffs, according to Reuters.
The New York Times reported that federal authorities are now looking heavily into the group because of how intimately they were involved in planning the January 6 domestic terrorist attack and arming their members beforehand.
One of Tarrio's closest associates and a deputy in the Proud Boys, Joseph Biggs was arrested last week by federal authorities for his role in the attack, and in the lawsuit, they name Tarrio specifically and mention that he asked members of the group to attend the riot "incognito."