The head of an armed militia that has been illegally detaining and holding migrants (read: kidnapping) at the US-Mexico border was arrested by the FBI on Saturday after a video posted online showed the group holding migrants against their will, The Washington Post reports.
Larry Hopkins, 69, was arrested in New Mexico Saturday on charges of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.
Hopkins is the head of the United Constitutional Patriots, one of multiple vigilante groups that have taken it upon themselves to patrol the Mexican border.
The group claims to “uphold the Constitution of the United States of America” and to protect citizens “against all enemies foreign and domestic.”
Hopkins was previously arrested for impersonating a police officer in 2006.
Arrest follows shocking video of group kidnapping migrants:
The arrest came after an April 16 video showed Hopkins’ group holding dozens of migrants the group kidnapped against their will.
“This is crazy, everybody, totally crazy,” a woman says in the video showing a large group of migrants huddled together in the dark. She said the group consisted of “hundreds” of people.
The migrants are then seen being led by Border Patrol agents who arrived several minutes into the video.
US Customs and Border Protection told The Washington Post that the agency “does not endorse private groups or organizations taking enforcement matters into their own hands” and warned that “interference by civilians in law enforcement matters could have public safety and legal consequences for all parties involved.”
Militia claims its actions are legal (they’re not):
The group claimed that its actions are legal but Javier Guerra, the police chief in Sunland Park, where the militia has set up, told BuzzFeed News that he explicitly told the group they are violating the law.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement that law enforcement was looking into the matter, adding that “menacing or threatening migrant families and asylum-seekers is absolutely unacceptable and must cease.”
“This is a dangerous felon who should not have weapons around children and families,” added New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas. “Today’s arrest by the FBI indicates clearly that the rule of law should be in the hands of trained law enforcement officials, not vigilantes."