This week, Reuters reported that Proud Boys leader and Miami native Enrique Tarrio had a history of going undercover and working as a police informant following his 2012 arrest on fraud charges. According to Reuters' Aram Roston, Tarrio shared information with police that led to the prosecution of 13 people on federal charges. Tarrio reportedly worked undercover or provided information on investigations involving prescription drugs, anabolic steroids, human smuggling, gambling, and marijuana grow houses.
His sentence on the fraud charges was reduced by nearly half — from 30 months to 16 months — because of that cooperation. In the years that followed, Tarrio went from being a police informant to the leader of an extremist group that was a key instigator in the January 6 Capitol insurrection, which resulted in the death of five people, including a police officer.
Tarrio previously told New Times that his 2012 arrest forced him to confront his mistakes, but that wasn't the last time he'd have to face a judge. Here's a timeline of Tarrio's various legal troubles over the years.
2004: Tarrio is convicted in a theft case. When Tarrio was 20 years old, he was convicted of stealing a $55,000 motorcycle. Miami-Dade County court records show that he was charged with grand theft and two counts of dealing in stolen property. Prosecutors dropped one of the stolen-property charges, and Tarrio pleaded guilty to the remaining counts, both of which are felonies. He was sentenced to three years' probation and ordered to perform community service and pay restitution.
2013: Tarrio is sentenced to federal prison. The FBI arrested Tarrio in January 2013 on charges of misbranding medical devices and possession of, conspiracy to sell, and transferring of stolen goods. Tarrio and two other men were accused of participating in a scheme to re-label and sell diabetes test kits. Tarrio agreed to a plea deal and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. His sentence was reduced to 16 months because of his "substantial assistance in the prosecution of others," court records show.
2020/2021: Tarrio is arrested in Washington, D.C. Two days before a mob of right-wing extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol, Metropolitan Police in D.C. arrested Tarrio for a December incident in which he burned a Black Lives Matter flag that had been stolen from a historic Black church during a protest organized by Trump supporters. Tarrio admitted to burning the flag, which had been torn down from Asbury United Methodist.
In addition to the misdemeanor, Tarrio was charged with weapons violations. Police found two high-capacity firearm magazines in his possession when they took him into custody. In D.C., it's illegal for anyone previously convicted of a felony to possess guns or ammunition.
The FBI later said Tarrio was arrested because the agency had information that he was among those planning to incite violence on January 6, the day Congress voted to certify the results of the presidential election.
Earlier this month, a D.C. judge banned Tarrio from the nation's capital, except to appear in court and meet with his lawyers.
2021: Another D.C. church sues Tarrio. Earlier this month, another historic Black church in Washington, D.C., the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, filed a lawsuit against Tarrio and the Proud Boys for a separate incident of property destruction. The church's lawyers say the Proud Boys hopped a fence and stole a Black Lives Matter sign from the church on the day of the banner-burning incident. The complaint calls the incident a hate crime.
"During a time of year that is meant to be joyous and restful, the congregants, staff, and church leadership instead had to endure and respond to a hate crime," the complaint states. "While the congregation remains determined to continue Metropolitan AME's legacy of fighting for racial justice, the attack has created a sense of heightened awareness of how dangerous it can be for Black people to speak out against white supremacy."
Tarrio has not yet responded to the church's complaint in D.C. Superior Court.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.