Federal Bureau of Investigation arrests member of armed civilian border group in NM

Clay Curtis
April 22, 2019

Two US soldiers, patrolling the border with Mexico, were stopped by five or six Mexican military personnel on 13 April 2019, who believed they had ventured into Mexico's territory, while in fact the troop were still on American soil, US Northern Command stated.

A New Mexico man belonging to an armed group that has detained Central American families near the U.S. -Mexico border was arrested Saturday in a border community on a criminal complaint accusing him of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, authorities said.

Larry Mitchell Hopkins, who runs the United Constitutional Patriots (UCP) was arrested on Saturday on charges of possessing firearms and ammunition as a convicted felon, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.

The group isn't new to the area; a small band of militia members has been stationed in Sunland Park since mid-February.

He had declared himself as the commander of the United Constitutional Patriots (UCP), a volunteer vigilante group whose members were holding migrants, and their objective as described by them was to "assist U.S. Border Patrol to manage the increased influx of illegals".

The arrest comes after New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, demanded that members of a militia group, some of whom are armed, stop detaining migrants at the New Mexico-Mexico border.

However, this was disputed by both the US Border Patrol and State Attorney General Hector Balderas.

The FBI Albuquerque division said that Hopkins, who is also known as Johnny Horton Jr., was arrested with the assistance of the Sunland Park Police Department.

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Videos purported to show members of the group detaining migrants, including families with children, who have just crossed the border.

Hopkins was previously arrested in OR in 2006 on suspicion of impersonating a police officer and being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

"Interference by civilians in law enforcement matters could have public safety and legal consequences for all parties involved", the agency said on its Twitter account.

A representative of the group said Friday that Benvie was the only person who addresses the media and was not immediately available for comment.

Border Patrol agents search the Rio Grande River for illegal immigrants crossing the border from Mexico into the United States near McAllen, Texas, on March 26, 2018.

Earlier Saturday, Mexican officials said they had "deep concern" about armed groups that intimidate and extort migrants on the border, shortly after the American Civil Liberties Union and Democratic U.S. senators called for a probe into such citizen efforts to block migrants from crossing.

The United States is facing a surge of migrants from Mexico and Central America unseen in years. But, unlike previous times, numerous migrants crossing now are children.

A spokesperson for the group told KVIA that the group never points a gun at migrants and they weren't forced to stay.

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