Washington, DC – Federal court records showed that Proud Boys Chairman Enrique Tarrio worked undercover for investigators on multiple occasions and served as an informant to federal and local law enforcement.
Reuters obtained a transcript of a 2014 federal court proceeding that involved Tarrio and reported that the leader of the far-right group had assisted the authorities in prosecuting more than a dozen criminals involved in drugs, gambling, and human trafficking.
The transcript showed that during that hearing, federal prosecutors, a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent, and Tarrio’s own attorney described the defendant’s undercover work for the authorities.
Tarrio, 36, told Reuters on Tuesday that he hadn’t worked undercover or cooperated in federal cases against other defendants when he was asked about the hearing transcript.
“I don’t know any of this,” he said. “I don’t recall any of this.”
Tarrio acknowledged that his fraud sentence was reduced to 16 months from the original 30 months, but said that was because he and the other defendants helped prosecutors “clear up” some questions about his own case.
However, the hearing transcript showed that Judge Joan A. Lenard had said Tarrio “provided substantial assistance in the investigation and prosecution of other persons involved in criminal conduct,” Reuters reported.
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Vanessa Singh Johannes, who prosecuted him in 2014, confirmed to Reuters in a written statement that Tarrio “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.”
Tarrio, who is based in Miami, has been the outspoken leader of the controversial Proud Boys since 2018.
He was arrested in January when he arrived in the nation’s capital ahead of a rally for President Donald Trump’s supporters that would become the Capitol riot, Reuters reported.
Tarrio was charged with possession of two high-capacity rifle magazines in violation of DC law.
He was also charged with burning a Black Lives Matter banner displayed on a historic church in the city during a protest in December, according to Reuters.
Tarrio was ordered to leave DC and not return until his June court date.
The FBI has said his arrest was made at that time in an effort to head off the insurrection that happened on Jan. 6, Reuters reported.
At least five members of the Proud Boys have been charged so far in connection with the Capitol riot.
The revelation that Tarrio had been acting as an informant for federal authorities was a surprise, Reuters reported.
Court records showed that Tarrio’s defense attorney, Jeffrey Feiler, and the prosecutor both asked the judge to reduce Tarrio’s prison sentence, and that of two of his co-defendants, when they pleaded guilty to fraud in a case that involved the relabeling and sale of stolen test kits for diabetes.
The attorneys told the judge Tarrio had provided information that led to the prosecution of 13 people on federal charges in two separate cases, according to Reuters.
The hearing transcript also showed the attorneys said Tarrio had helped local law enforcement in an investigation of a gambling ring.
The document showed Feiler told the judge that Tarrio had worked undercover for the authorities on multiple occasions, including investigations into the sale of anabolic steroids and “wholesale prescription narcotics,” Reuters reported.
Feiler also said his client had gone undercover for an investigation that targeted human smuggling, according to the transcript.
Court records showed Tarrio’s attorney told the judge that his client was a “prolific” cooperator who helped police find three marijuana grow houses, Reuters reported.
Feiler said Tarrio helped with a human smuggling case and “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,” according to the hearing transcript.
The defense attorney told Reuters that he didn’t recall the details of the case, but he didn’t deny that Tarrio had been a police informant and stood by what he said in the 2014 hearing.
“The information I provided to the court was based on information provided to me by law enforcement and the prosecutor,” he said.
The Miami FBI office has refused to comment on the fact the hearing transcript said an FBI agent told the judge that Tarrio had been a “key component” in local authorities’ investigations into marijuana, cocaine, and ecstasy, Reuters reported.
The former federal prosecutor who handled Tarrio’s prosecution for fraud said she was surprised he had become a leader in movement to stop the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
“I knew that he was a fraudster – but had no reason to know that he was also a domestic terrorist,” Johannes told Reuters.
There were no reports of the Proud Boys leader working with federal authorities recently.
Tarrio told Reuters that he initially worked with local law enforcement in cities where Proud Boys were attending rallies to let the police know about the group’s plans.
But he said that he stopped doing that in December after DC police cracked down on his group.