Larry Mitchell Hopkins, the 69-year-old leader of the United Constitutional Patriots militia, was arrested by the FBI on charges of possessing firearms and ammunition as a convicted felon. Mitchell and his armed militia were illegally detaining immigrants and asylum seekers crossing the New Mexico border while pretending to work for the United States Border Patrol.
Hopkins goes by the name Johnny Horton.
The United Constitutional Patriots (UCP) are known for spreading far-right conspiracies, most notably claiming that migrants are associated with ISIS, the QAnon theory, and even claiming he has personally discussed “Muslim immigration” with president Donald Trump.
“This is a dangerous felon who should not have weapons around children and families. 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,” New Mexico attorney general Hector Balderas said in a statement.
Videos have surfaced online that show the United Constitutional Patriots detaining migrants at the border while members were suited up in military fatigues and armed with machine guns.
Following Hopkins’ arrest, the United Constitutional Patriots Facebook page called for assistance from their supporters.
TO ALL OUR MEMBERS AND SUPPORTERS : WE HAVE AN EMERGENCY. THE COMMANDER WAS ARRESTED BY THE FBI AT BASE CAMP. IT WAS A SET UP. HE HAS NOT BEEN TO WHY HE WAS ARRESTED OR WHAT FOR. HE HAS NOT BEEN READ HIS RIGHTS. WE NEED HELP FROM ALL PATRIOTS . THEY SET HIM UP THEY ARE TRYING TO USE HIS PAST FROM 50 YEARS AGO. THE COMMANDER NEEDS ALL PATRIOT TO COME TO HIS AID. WE ARE STILL TRYING TO GET INFO. WILL POST WHEN WE HAVE FURTHER INTEL . THIS IS NOT A JOKE .”
Customs and Border Protection said it “does not endorse or condone private groups or organizations that take enforcement matters into their own hands. Interference by civilians in law enforcement matters could have public safety and legal consequences for all parties involved.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico previously wrote the attorney general to ask for an investigation into Hopkins and his crew, according to the Farmington Daily Times.
“This has no place in our state: we cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum,” the ACLU wrote.