Prosecutors unveil 'overwhelming' evidence in Jan. 6 conspiracy case against Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio
(Screenshot via The Oregonian/YouTube.com)

The government sharpened its case against Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, arguing in a memo in support of pretrial detention on Monday that he “imposed a command-and-control structure” on a newly created “national rally planning” chapter set up to carry out the attack.

Tarrio, who was the national chairman of the Proud Boys at the time of the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the US Capitol, went before a federal judge in Miami for a detention and removal hearing on Tuesday morning. At the hearing’s conclusion, Magistrate Judge Lauren F. Louis ordered Tarrio to remain jailed while awaiting arraignment on his charges in the District of Columbia.

The court filing provides new details about Tarrio’s role in setting up a series of encrypted group chats under the name Ministry of Self-Defense, or MOSD, that were used to vet Proud Boys for inclusion in the operation at the US Capitol on Jan. 6. According to the government, Tarrio and other leaders “imposed a command-and-control structure on the new chapter,” which included operational and marketing councils, with leaders empowered to hand-pick Proud Boys to become members of the MOSD.

In its court filing on Monday, the government alleged that on Jan. 3, three days before the attack, one of Tarrio’s picks for the MOSD posted a message reading, “Time to stack those bodies in front of Capitol Hill.”

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Another member is alleged to have asked in the same discussion: “So are the normies and other attendees going to push thru police lines and storm the capital buildings? A few million vs A few hundred coptifa should be enough.”

The same member, according to the government, raised a scenario that turned out to be prophetic.

“What would they do [if] 1 million patriots stormed and took the capital building,” he wrote. “Shoot into the crowd? I think not.”

According to the government, an un-indicted co-conspirator labeled “Person 3” — and subsequently identified as John Charles Stewart, a member of the Operational Council — responded: “They would do nothing because they can do nothing.”

The recent court filing also provides new detail about a meeting between Tarrio and Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes at a hotel parking garage on the eve of the Capitol attack. The meeting took place after Tarrio had been released and ordered to leave DC, following his Jan. 4 arrest on charges of burning a Black Lives Matter banner stolen from a Black church. (Rhodes is currently charged with seditious conspiracy.)

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Tarrio told another individual in the parking-garage meeting that, according to the government, “he had cleared all of the messages on his phone before he was arrested” and that “no one else would be able to get into his phone because there were ‘two steps’ to get into it.”

Tarrio’s indictment hints at broader coordination between the Proud Boys and other actors involved in the effort to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election with an allegation that Tarrio received a nine-page document on Dec. 30 or Dec. 31 that outlined a plan to occupy “crucial buildings” in Washington, DC on Jan. 6.

The government argues that even after his arrest, “Tarrio continued to direct the conspiracy.” After meeting with Rhodes, the government alleges that Tarrio traveled to Baltimore and, using associates’ phones, joined new encrypted chats for MOSD leaders and members that were set up after the original chats were shut down following his arrest. According to the government, Tarrio posted at least one message to the New MOSD Leaders Group chat shortly after midnight on Jan. 6.

The government alleges that the communications in the encrypted chats clearly show that Ethan Nordean and Joe Biggs, Tarrio’s codefendants were designated “to take charge on the ground.” The two men can be seen in video filmed by Proud Boy Eddie Block leading hundreds of Proud Boys from the Washington Monument to the Capitol on Jan. 6. The government alleges that Nordean and Biggs were continuously “coordinating” with and “deferring to Tarrio.” As evidence, the government cites a message posted by Biggs in the MOSD Leaders Group chat at 9:17 p.m. on Jan. 5: “Just spoke with Enrique.”

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The court filing also quotes Biggs as saying, “I gave Enrique a plan. The one I told the guys and he said he had one.”

It remains unknown who provided the nine-page document outlining plans to occupy government buildings to Tarrio.

But the government’s prosecution points to Stewart, a member of the Operational Council, as a person who helped the Proud Boys settle on the Capitol building as a target. According to the indictment, Tarrio stated in the MOSD Leaders Group that he wanted to wait until Jan. 4 to make final plans.

Apparently ignoring Tarrio’s wishes, Stewart — identified in the indictment as “Person 3” — posted a voice note in the chat at 7:10 p.m. on Jan. 3 that used military language: “I mean the main operating theater should be out in front of the house of representatives. It should be out in front of the Capitol building. That’s where the vote is taking place and all of the objections. So, we can ignore the rest of these stages and all that sh*t and plan the operations based around the front entrance to the Capitol building. I strongly recommend you use the national mall and not Pennsylvania avenue though. It’s a wide open space, you can see everything coming from all angles.”

The following day, Tarrio acknowledged Stewart’s recommendations, according to the government, raising no objections.

“I didn’t hear this voice note until now, you want to storm the Capitol,” he said according to the government.

Like Tarrio, Stewart was not present in Washington, DC on Jan. 6. Two Proud Boys, one former and another current, told LNP/Lancaster News that Stewart was in the hospital dealing with a medical issue. At the time of Tarrio’s arrest on March 8, the government had a search warrant for Stewart’s home in Carlisle, Pa. to collect evidence.

The government argued on Monday that Tarrio should remain in jail pending trial because he is a risk to the safety of the community and a flight risk. The government also said Tarrio is a risk for obstructing justice based on “public comments aimed at chilling witnesses against his co-conspirators.”

As evidence, the government cited a story by Reuters reporting that Tarrio sent a voice message to Proud Boys around the country, saying, “The moment that they think one of the guys flipped, it throws everything off and it makes everybody turn on each other, and that’s what we are trying to f***ing avoid.”

Along with codefendants Nordean, Biggs, Charles Donohoe, Zach Rehl and Dominic Pezzola, Tarrio is set to be arraigned by Judge Timothy Kelly in federal court in the District of Columbia on March 22.

The government argued that the evidence against Tarrio is “overwhelming,” while calling him “a danger to the community.”

The government alleges that Tarrio posted in the encrypted chat groups throughout the day on Jan. 6, and after the attack wrote, “They’ll fear us doing it again.”

When one member asked what they should do next, Tarrio reportedly responded at 4:14 p.m.: “Do it again.”