The leader of the militia group which we profiled over the weekend for its detention of migrant families at the US border, was arrested and charged of plotting the assassination of former President Barack Obama, George Soros and various other key Democratic Party figures, the FBI said in court papers.
While militia leader Larry Hopkins, 69, was arrested on Saturday for a weapons charge said to be unrelated to his activities on the border, the FBI now claims Hopkins bragged about his fellow militia members “training to assassinate” former President Barack Obama, Trump’s nemesis in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic Party’s most generous billionaire donor, George Soros.
To be sure, Hopkins had been a busy man – if what the Feds say is to be believed (which these days is a stretch) – for a long time, and before the F.B.I. arrested the militia leader, he’d had so many run-ins with the law that his police record stretched across much of the United States. Oregon police arrested him in 2006 on charges of impersonating a police officer and a felony weapons offense. They had found him showing guns to teenagers in a gas-station parking lot while wearing a police-style uniform and a badge emblazoned with the words “Special Agent” according to the NYT.
“Hopkins stated that he worked for the federal government directly under George Bush,” Officer Jack Daniel of the sheriff’s office in Klamath County, Ore., wrote in his report. Hopkins, the report said, claimed variously to be investigating a meth lab, hunting fugitives and undertaking unspecified “operations” in Afghanistan.
Over a decade later, Hopkins finally came under the scrutiny of federal authorities in 2017, after the FBI received reports that his group was “training” to assassinate Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and George Soros, according to documents unsealed Monday in federal court.
Hopkins appeared in Federal District Court on Monday after his arrest over the weekend on yet another charge, this time of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.
Hopkins’ group, the United Constitutional Patriots profiled here, claims to have helped the US Border Patrol to detain over 5,600 immigrants in the previous two months. The ACLU has condemned the group as a “fascist militia” and called its members vigilantes. In photos showcasing its actions, the group shows men in camouflage circling and detaining hundreds of migrants in the desert near Sunland Park, N.M., and then handing the migrants over to Border Patrol.
The heavily armed militia’s actions have ignited debate over whether its members broke kidnapping laws and effectively acted as a paramilitary force supporting the Border Patrol. Militia members argue that they were assisting the authorities to patrol remote areas of the border and carrying out “verbal citizen’s arrests.”
“We cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum,” the ACLU said in a letter to New Mexico Governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham and Attorney General Hector Balderas.
Hopkins’ attorney, Kelly O’Connell, said the militia group leader planned to plead not guilty. The militia’s spokesman told local media that he’s “confident” Hopkins will “get through this.” He also claimed that the New Mexico, Hector Balderas, “has declared war on American citizens at the order of the ACLU” by pushing to prevent private citizens “from assisting and documenting a crisis on the border.”
In an affidavit, FBI special agent David S. Gabriel, said the bureau was made aware of the activities of Hopkins after receiving reports in October 2017 of “alleged militia extremist activity” in northwestern New Mexico. Gabriel said that the following month, two F.B.I. agents went to a trailer park in Flora Vista, N.M., where Hopkins was living at the time. With Mr. Hopkins’s consent, the agents entered the home and saw about 10 firearms in plain view, in what Mr. Hopkins referred to as his office.
Hopkins, who has also used the name Johnny Horton Jr., told the agents that the guns belonged to Fay Sanders Murphy, whom he described to agents as his common-law wife, according to the affidavit. The agents collected at least nine firearms from the home as evidence, including a 12-gauge shotgun and various handguns.
According to the NYT, the court affidavit gave few details about the report the F.B.I. received stating that the United Constitutional Patriots “were training to assassinate George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama because of these individuals’ support of Antifa.”
Hopkins’s lawyer, Kelly O’Connell, disputed the reports about assassination plans. “My client told me that is not true,” Mr. O’Connell said. He also questioned the timing of the arrest. “My question is, why now?” O’Connell said. He suggested that pressure from prominent Democrats in New Mexico may have prompted the F.B.I. to take action.