The former national chairman of the Proud Boys, a male North American far right organisation, was sentenced to 22 years in prison on Tuesday for seditious conspiracy and other charges related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, 39, of Miami, Florida, was sentenced to 22 years in prison and 36 months of supervised release.
His actions and the actions of others disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress that was in the process of ascertaining and counting the electoral votes related to the 2020 presidential election, read a statement issued by the US Department of Justice.
“On January 6th, 2021, the United States Capitol was attacked, 140 law enforcement officers defending those inside were assaulted, and the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government – a cornerstone of our democracy – was interrupted,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.
“The Justice Department proved in court that the Proud Boys played a central role in setting the January 6th attack on our Capitol into motion. Over the past week, four members of the Proud Boys received sentences that reflect the danger their crimes pose to our democracy. Today, the leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, learned that the consequence of conspiring to oppose by force the lawful transfer of presidential power is 22 years in federal prison,” Garland added.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said, “Today’s sentencing demonstrates that those who attempted to undermine the workings of American democracy will be held criminally accountable."
“The FBI will always protect those who peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights. But we will never condone the actions of those who break our laws, and we will continue to work with federal prosecutors to ensure those perpetrators are held responsible,” Wray added.
U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia said, “No organisation put more boots on the ground at the Capitol on January 6, 2021 than the Proud Boys, and they were at the forefront of every major breach of the Capitol’s defenses, leading the on-the-ground efforts to storm the seat of government.”
“The leaders of the Proud Boys and the leaders of the Oath Keepers, who conspired before, during, and after the siege of the Capitol to use force against their own government to prevent the peaceful transfer of power have now been held accountable,” the statement read.
On May 4, 2023, a jury found Tarrio and three other co-defendants of multiple felonies, including seditious conspiracy for their actions before and during the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Previously sentenced in this matter were co-defendants Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, and Dominic Pezzola.
Nordean was sentenced to 18 years in prison, Biggs was sentenced to 17 years, Rehl was sentenced to 15 years, and Pezzola was sentenced to 10 years.
According to court documents and evidence presented during the trial, prior to the events of Jan. 6, 2021, Tarrio created a special chapter of the Proud Boys known as the “Ministry of Self Defense”, which included co-defendants Nordean, Biggs, and Rehl, who conspired to prevent, hinder and delay the certification of the Electoral College vote and to oppose by force the authority of the government of the United States.
In the days leading to Jan. 6, 2021, Tarrio and the other leaders of the Ministry of Self Defense hand-selected members of the organisation, including co-defendant Dominic Pezzola, to serve as “rally boys” during the attack on the Capitol.
To prepare for the attack on the Capitol, Tarrio and the other leaders of the Ministry of Self Defense established a chain of command, chose a time and place for their attack, and intentionally recruited others who would follow their top-down leadership and who were prepared to engage in physical violence if necessary.
On Jan. 6, 2021, the group began their assault that day at 10:00 a.m. when Nordean, Biggs, Rehl, and others marched an assembled group of nearly 200 individuals away from speeches at the Ellipse and directly toward the Capitol.
At 2:11 p.m., Pezzola smashed open a window, allowing the first rioters to enter the Capitol as Biggs and those with him entered close behind.
Court documents say that Nordean, Biggs and Rehl, and the men they recruited and led, participated in every consequential breach at the Capitol that day.
During the hearing, U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly found that Tarrio’s conduct constituted an official act of terrorism and applied an enhancement to his final sentence.
The FBI Washington Field Office investigated the case. The charges in the investigation are the result of significant cooperation between agents and staff across numerous FBI Field Offices and law enforcement agencies.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, the Justice Department’s National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section, and the Justice Department’s Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section prosecuted the case.
In the 31 months since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 1,106 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including more than 350 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.