Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, the former leader of the neofascist network known as the Proud Boys, has been indicted by the Justice Department on multiple charges including conspiracy for his alleged role in the Jan. 6 attack of the U.S. Capitol.
Tarrio joins several fellow Proud Boys already indicted by the department. He now faces charges including conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, aiding and abetting that obstruction, obstruction of law enforcement, destruction of government property, and assaulting, impeding, or resisting law enforcement.
NBC6 captured Tarrio’s arrest. He emerged from his home Miami, Florida home in his underwear.
Tarrio’s name has swirled around the probe of the insurrection since long before its inception. The decision to indict him for conspiracy is a major move for the Department of Justice and comes as the FBI has reportedly invested significant time scrutinizing the role that extremist groups played in the attack.
Tarrio Indictment by Daily Kos
Historically, Tarrio has denied any wrongdoing or criminality tied to the putsch incited by former President Donald Trump.
According to the 30-page indictment, from November 2020 onward, Tarrio “used his platform as leader of the Proud Boys” to promote falsehoods about the election and whip up violence.
Week after week, he posted online messages like: “If Biden steals this election, the [Proud Boys’] will be political prisoners. We won’t go quietly, I promise” or “Fuck unity. No quarter. Raise the black flag” and “No Trump … no peace. No quarter.”
Tarrio was not at the Capitol on Jan. 6 because he had been arrested in a local airport near Washington, D.C. just two days earlier and told not to reenter the district.
Tarrio was in D.C. just a month before, joining fellow Proud Boys and fans of the former president to support Trump’s lie that he won the election for rallies in the nation’s capital on Dec. 12.
It was a raucous day as Proud Boys clashed with counterprotesters as well as locals. By nightfall, a Black Lives Matter banner was stolen from a prominent Black church near the White House and burned.
Tarrio admitted to burning it online.
“Come get me if you feel like what I did was wrong. We’ll let the public decide,” Tarrio wrote on social media.
When he was arrested at the airport on Jan. 4, Tarrio told officers he was in town because he planned to sell two empty high-capacity magazines to someone attending the Stop the Steal rally on Jan. 6.
He was released by early evening on Jan. 5 and ordered to leave the city. Tarrio did not leave.
Prosecutors say the Miami resident went instead to an underground parking garage to meet with Elmer Stewart Rhodes, leader of the extremist right-wing Oath Keepers group, for 30 minutes.
Rhodes is currently awaiting trial for seditious conspiracy charges tied to the insurrection. He has pleaded not guilty, but other Oath Keepers charged alongside him, like Joshua James, have pleaded guilty and flipped.
James’ plea agreement drastically undercuts Rhodes' not guilty plea. James admitted he took orders from Rhodes to execute a seditious conspiracy intended to stop the peaceful transfer of power by any means necessary, including and especially through the use of force.
After meeting in the parking garage with Rhodes—Tarrio has maintained it was happenstance that they bumped into each other—he drove to Baltimore, Maryland.
What came the next morning was the result of Tarrio’s efforts from weeks before as he quietly assembled an exclusive chapter of the Proud Boys that operated on encrypted channels and focused on “national rally planning.”
Tarrio called the team the “Ministry of Defense” and tapped Proud Boys Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, Charles Donohoe, and Dominic Pezzola to run it.
Authorities say Pezzola, a former U.S. Marine, shattered a Senate window with a stolen police riot shield on Jan. 6. The New York resident was already charged with conspiracy on Jan. 30 along with another New York Proud Boy, William Pepe. Pezzola’s appearance on the indictment with Tarrio is in addition to those charges.
Tarrio encouraged Proud Boys to get paramilitary gear, radio equipment, and dress “incognito” on Jan. 6. He told members to obscure or ditch Proud Boys insignia or colors altogether to avoid detection.
In one public tweet on Dec. 29, Tarrio wrote that Proud Boys would show up in force on Jan. 6 “but this time with a twist.”
“We will not be wearing our traditional Black and Yellow. We will be incognito and we will be spread across downtown DC in smaller teams. And who knows … we might dress in all black for the occasion,” Tarrio wrote.
The conspiracy involved the dismantling of barricades at restricted areas and storming over them, pushing past U.S. Capitol Police and others, destroying any property, and assaulting law enforcement agents as necessary to meet their ends, prosecutors allege.
The indictment also highlights how a week before the attack, Tarrio received a document entitled “1776 Returns.” The person who sent it to Tarrio was not identified in Tuesday’s filing, but their identity was made known to the grand jury reviewing the case.
The document laid out instructions on how to occupy “a few crucial buildings” in D.C. including House and Senate buildings. The person recommended Tarrio take the buildings “with as many people as possible” inside to “show our politicians We the People are in charge.”
Upon receiving the document and a warning from the sender that “revolution is [more] important than anything,” Tarrio responded in kind.
“That’s what every waking moment consists of, I’m not playing games,” he said.
Once Tarrio was arrested in D.C. on Jan. 4, the Ministry of Defense group scurried to delete messages from their chats and open new group texts in order to better conceal their activity, the indictment notes.
As Tarrio’s henchmen wondered to one another if their boss had deleted messages about their scheme, Proud Boy and now co-defendant Charles Donohoe was assured.
“Well at least they won’t get our boots on the ground plan because we are one step ahead of them,” Donohoe wrote before setting up a group chat that included some 90 total participants.
Donohoe said he received instructions “from the top” and that everything had been “compromised.”
He then proceeded to set up another encrypted chat dubbed “Boots on the Ground.” As they readied for the attack, U.S. attorneys say the men conspired as a group to coordinate their movements as Tarrio watched from afar.
Just before 3 PM on Jan. 6, as the riot was underway, Tarrio celebrated online, writing “1776” and “Revolutionaries are now at the Rayburn building.” It was the same language and location referenced in plans previously sent to Tarrio for the day.
Tarrio’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
As the leader of the Proud Boys, much inquiry has encircled Tarrio. He has been uncooperative with the Jan. 6 investigation, choosing to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a closed-door deposition on Feb. 4.
He was subpoenaed by legislators in November as he sat in jail, serving out a five-month sentence for his burning of the Black Lives Matter banner.
One question that has loomed over Tarrio for months is a visit he paid to the White House on Dec. 12, 2020, the same day he was in town with fellow Proud Boys to protest the election results.
Tarrio posted a picture of himself on Parler that morning saying he accepted a “last-minute invite to an undisclosed location.” In another post from the White House’s South Portico, he wrote: “Never thought I’d be here.”
Trump’s deputy White House press secretary at the time, Judd Deere—recently subpoenaed by the committee—denied that Tarrio was invited and said he was merely attending a public Christmas tour.