The FBI arrested a 69-year-old New Mexico man allegedly arresting illegal immigrants across the border on the pretext of working for the United States border patrol.
Larry Mitchell Hopkins, who runs the United Constitutional Patriots (UCP), an armed border militia group that spreads right-wing conspiracies and brings together asylum seekers at the border, was arrested by the FBI on Saturday in New Mexico as a convicted criminal
The latest video released by UCP shows two members who seem to hold semi-automatic rifles near immigrants, many of them children.
The group also announces conspiracy theories and produces a radio program in which members spread information about QAnon and accuse migrants of joining forces with ISIS. Hopkins also claimed that President Trump personally asked him about "Muslim immigration."
UCP and Hopkins claim to work with Border Patrol, which they publicly denied. Border patrol agents sometimes appear in the periphery of group videos, showing that UCP members wrapped in a cloak of invisibility interact with migrants on the southern border.
"There is no question of whether or not we work with Border Patrol," said Jim, a UCP spokesman who refused to give his surname. "It's all documented and not just once. It's been documented hundreds of times in the videos I've posted. "
"US Customs and Border Protection does not endorse private groups or organizations that take enforcement matters into their own hands," a border guard official told The Daily Beast.
Border Patrol is not meant to interact with Border Guards but has been documented. ON Mother Jones A reporter embedded with a border militia in 2016 saw the group receive information from Border Patrol agents.
The UCP is just one of several vigilante groups patrolling with weapons at the southern border.
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas made a statement on Saturday praising the FBI for the arrest of Hopkins.
"This is a dangerous offender who should not have weapons near children and families," Balderas wrote in a statement. "Today's arrest by the FBI clearly shows that the rule of law should be in the hands of trained law enforcement officials, not armed vigilantes."
Hopkins, from Flora Vista, N.M., is expected to perform in front of a US District Court in Las Cruces, New Mexico on Monday. The federal authorities said that they would publish more details about the arrest of Hopkins after the performance.
The arrest was the latest blow for the group. On Friday, the UCP Facebook group told its members that they no longer accept donations through PayPal because the service has blocked their account.
"I would like to thank ALL PATRIOTS for all of you who have previously donated to the Border Ops mission. We can no longer accept payments through PAYPAL, they have finally closed our account, "read the post. "… and donates $ 1,300 for 180 days. I'm looking for a different outfit that we can go through. "