Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, the leader of the far-right Proud Boys group, was previously an informant for both federal and local law enforcement, Reuters has found. According to the outlet, Tarrio repeatedly worked undercover for investigators, leading his lawyer to at one time call him a “prolific” informant.
In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday (Jan. 26), Tarrio denied ever cooperating with authorities; but a transcript from a 2014 federal case proved otherwise. During the hearing, which was for Tarrio’s 2012 arrest, his lawyer told the judge about his undercover work and said he’d helped law enforcement prosecute over a dozen people in drug, gambling and human smuggling cases.
In a statement to Reuters, Tarrio’s former prosecutor Vanessa Singh Johannes also confirmed that “he cooperated with local and federal law enforcement to aid in the prosecution of those running other, separate criminal enterprises,” which ranged from “running marijuana grow houses in Miami to operating pharmaceutical fraud schemes.”
Tarrio’s history with law enforcement poses a potential conflict of interest with his latest arrest. The Proud Boys leader was arrested and charged just days before the Capitol insurrection for possessing two high-capacity rifle magazines and burning a church’s Black Lives Matter flag during a December rally. Reuters reports that Tarrio’s last prison sentence was shortened from 30 months to 16 months after lawyers pointed out that he had helped out law enforcement in the past.
The records also raise questions about law enforcement’s affiliation with the Proud Boys. Tarrio told Reuters that he would typically coordinate with local police ahead of the extremist group’s rallies. However, he said he stopped doing that after Dec. 12 because D.C. police had started to crack down on the group.
Tarrio did not participate in the Jan. 6 insurrection because a judge had ordered him to stay out of D.C. after releasing him from jail. The Proud Boys were there, though, and at least five members have since been charged for the deadly riot.