The FBI arrested the leader of an armed militia group that has become infamous for patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border and apprehending illegal migrants until Border Patrol officers arrive.
Larry Mitchell Hopkins was arrested on Saturday in Sunland Park, New Mexico, according to the FBI Albuquerque office. The 69-year-old, who is set to appear Monday in U.S. District Court, was charged for being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.
Hopkins is the leader of the United Constitutional Patriots, a militia group that patrol the New Mexico’s southern border and detains any migrants they see attempting to cross. Dressed in camouflage and carrying rifles, members of the United Constitutional Patriots (UCP) holds illegal immigrants until Customs and Border Patrol arrives. The group claims it has helped law enforcement apprehend 5,600 migrants in the past two months alone.
“This country was built on three things: God, guns and guts,” Hopkins said to local media in March. “That American flag has to keep flying. It’s in danger, a lot of danger right now.”
Video of UCP members detaining what appears to be hundreds of migrants at the border sparked outrage among Democrats and progressive groups.
The American Civil Liberties Union’s New Mexico chapter on Thursday called on their governor and attorney general to investigate the UCP. Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced on Friday that her office was working with police, and called the group’s actions “absolutely unacceptable.” Hopkins was arrested the very next day.
“This is a dangerous felon who should not have weapons around children and families,” New Mexico Attorney General Balderas said in a statement following the arrest. “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.”
However, UCP hit back, with one member suggesting that Balderas has “declared war” on U.S. citizens at the behest of the ACLU.
“We’re being attacked because we’re exposing the truth. We’re being attacked because the Left does not want this narrative out there, they want to allow this non-violent invasion to continue,” said UCP spokesman Jim Benvie said in a Facebook video. “It is a crisis, it’s a humanitarian crisis.
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