Arrested Leader Of Vigilante Group That Detains Migrants Faced Similar Charges In 2006

Members of the Central American migrant caravan
Spencer Platt / Getty Images

As The Inquisitr previously covered, on Saturday FBI Agents and local police in Sunland Park, Texas arrested Larry Mitchell Hopkins, 69, on suspicion of being a felon in possession of firearms. Hopkins has been known to federal authorities previously as the leader of a group called United Constitutional Patriots, who have for years now patrolled the border between the United States and Mexico in pursuit of migrants that they would detain under suspicion of entering the country illegally.

“This is a dangerous felon who should not have weapons around children and families,” said New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas 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 armed vigilantes.”

In 2006, Hopkins found himself in hot water for similar behavior, when he was accused of impersonating a police officer in Klamath County, Oregon, The Guardian reports. Hopkins pleaded guilty, acknowledging that he had indeed given “the impression” that he was a police officer, while illegally carrying a firearm as a convicted felon.

A sheriff’s office report from that time reveals that Hopkins was found at a gas station in Keno showing firearms to children and telling them that he was a police officer. Hopkins displayed a “special agent” badge and had a variety of medals pinned to his shirt, according to the report.

As per the United Constitutional Patriots Facebook page, they are a group in favor of “Americans that believe in the constitution and the rights of every American that will stand up for there (sic) rights in unity and help keep America safe.”

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham took the arrest as an opportunity to oppose the vigilante work carried out by the group and others like it.

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“We are actively working with @NewMexicoOAG as well as local and state police. Menacing or threatening migrant families and asylum-seekers is absolutely unacceptable and must cease,” she said in a tweet.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in New Mexico described the group as “an armed fascist militia organization” made up of “vigilantes” and said they sought to “kidnap and detain people seeking asylum,” making unlawful arrests and holding migrants at gunpoint. The ACLU, in addition, called to task the Trump Administration for emboldening white nationalists and stirring up contempt for migrant families seeking asylum in the United States.

Hopkins is scheduled to appear in court on Monday, at which time more information is expected to be made public.