FBI Arrests Leader of Armed Right-Wing Militia Group Accused of Illegally Detaining Migrants at the US-Mexico Border
Megan Sheets and Rod Ardehali, Daily Mail and Wires, April 20, 2019
The FBI has arrested the leader of an armed right-wing militia group accused of illegally detaining migrants at the US-Mexico border.
Larry Mitchell Hopkins, 70, was arrested for illegal possession of a weapon on Saturday in Sunland Park, New Mexico.
Hopkins, who also goes by ‘Striker’, is the ‘national commander’ of United Constitutional Patriots (UCP). The small but well-armed group has had around six members camped out on a rotating basis near Sunland Park since February, standing guard over people who want to hand themselves in to border patrol and pursuing those who don’t.
UCP spokesman Jim Benvie blamed Hopkins’ latest arrest on political pressure from Governor Lujan Grisham, telling Reuters: ‘We’re not worried about it, he’s going to be cleared.’
The arrest comes just days after UCP stopped a group of 300 men, women and children, who had crossed the border into the US, and handed them over to border officials.
Video recorded by Benvie, who has been camping out on the New Mexico-Chihuahua border for two months, showed the asylum seekers walking on a dirt road having crossed through a fence gap in Sunland Park, just outside of El Paso, Texas.
Benvie and three other men had been scouting the area Monday night before coming across what the US Border Patrol estimated was 300 migrants.
‘We held them there until Border Patrol came,’ Benvie said. ‘And once they came then we did what we do, and that’s to help Border Patrol get them to the processing van. So, everybody is safe.
‘We’re just Americans. We’re veterans, we’re ex-law enforcement, we’re people that care about our national security,’ Benvie added.
‘We’re people that care about our strained Border Patrol.’
Border Patrol has said it does not condone UCP’s actions.
UCP members have helped Border Patrol detain over 5,600 migrants in the last two months, Benvie said.
Crowdfunding sites PayPal and GoFundMe barred the group on Friday, citing policies not to promote hate or violence, after the ACLU called the UCP a ‘fascist militia’.
UCP members insist they will patrol the border until the wall is built.
‘We’re here to assist the border patrol because they are so short handed,’ Hopkins told AFP earlier this month.
The group — made up mostly of older veterans — enjoys an enthusiastic social media following. They are equipped with tactical gear, rifles and even custom patches on camouflage outfits.