Who is Enrique Tarrio? Proud Boys leader charged with 'seditious conspiracy' for January 6 US Capitol attack

Enrique Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys, has been charged with seditious conspiracy over reported connections to the Capitol riots (photo via Getty)
Enrique Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys, has been charged with seditious conspiracy over reported connections to the Capitol riots (photo via Getty)

Enrique Tarrio, the chairman of the far-right group Proud Boys, has been charged with seditious conspiracy over his alleged role in organizing last year's attack on the US Capitol.

In January 2021, 2,000-2,500 supporters of former US President Donald Trump attacked the Capitol Building in protest against President Joe Biden’s victory. Along with members of several other far-right political groups, Enrique Tarrio and four other members of the Proud Boys were indicted for reportedly attempting to overturn the election results.

The attack resulted in 5 deaths and numerous injuries, with four rioters and one police officer losing their lives on the day. According to CBS, at least nine officers who responded to the riot committed suicide in its aftermath due to injuries and trauma.

Who is Enrique Tarrio?

According to the Miami New Times, Enrique Tarrio was born in 1984 or 1985 in Little Havana, a predominantly Cuban American neighborhood in Miami, Florida. Unlike other primarily white Proud Boys members, Tarrio is of Afro-Cuban descent.

In 2004, 20-year-old Tarrio was sentenced to community service and three years of probation for theft. According to a report by Reuters, his career as a petty criminal eventually resulted in him becoming an informant for various American law enforcement agencies. In 2014, Tarrio’s lawyers told a federal court that he had provided authorities with information on multiple cases, including rackets related to drug smuggling, illegal gambling, and human trafficking.

The Miami New Times reported that Enrique Tarrio joined the Proud Boys in 2017 when he was recruited while volunteering at an event for Milo Yiannopoulos, a controversial right-wing commentator.

Enrique Tarrio rose through the ranks of the Proud Boys through his alleged involvement in various controversial and violent political rallies, including 2017 Unite the Right white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, which led to the death of 1 counter-protestor and 2 State troopers.

Vox reported that by 2018, Tarrio had distinguished himself as a fourth-degree member of the Proud Boys, a title one can only achieve by carrying out violence for the group. Allegedly, he had punched a member of ANTIFA, a rival left-wing organization that regularly clashes with the Proud Boys.

On November 29, 2018, Enrique Tarrio became the organization's chair. Throughout the 2022 Black Lives Matter protests, the Proud Boys were accused of various clashes with leftist groups. Enrique Tarrio was also arrested in connection with a demonstration in which right-wing groups reportedly burnt Black Lives Matter property stolen from a Church.

According to Insider, despite being associated with white supremacist groups, he does not identify himself as a fascist or racist, citing his position as a minority in America.

He said:

“I denounce white supremacy. I denounce racism. I denounce fascism. I denounce communism and any other -ism that is prejudiced towards people because of their race, religion, culture, tone of skin.”

In January 2021, members of the Proud Boys and several other far-right groups attacked the US capitol. CNN reported that Tarrio himself was not present during the attack, as he had been arrested beforehand and ordered by authorities to stay away from Washington D.C. According to prosecutors, however, he is accused of directing his followers to the area.

The aftermath of the Capitol Attack

In the same month as the Capitol attack, the news was leaked about Enrique Tarrio’s history as an informant. According to the Daily Beast, this caused the group to splinter. The outlet reported that other Proud Boy members had condemned Tarrio in a statement sent on the online messaging app, Telegram.

The statement read:

“(due to Enrique Tarrio’s actions there has been) a failure to take disciplinary actions (which) have jeopardized our brothers safety and the integrity of our brother hood.”

In 2021, Tarrio faced many charges, including vandalism, hate crimes, and the possession of high-capacity firearms magazines. In July of the same year, he pleaded guilty to destroying property and control of the magazines, leading to a 155-day prison sentence.

Now that prosecutors have charged Tarrio with seditious conspiracy, he could face 20 years in prison. Other prominent far-right figures who have been charged include 11 leaders of the far-right militia group, the Oath Keepers. As per the BBC, more than 860 people across 48 States face charges related to the riot.

Edited by Suchitra