Ex-Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio jailed for 22 years for Capitol riot

The former leader of the Proud Boys has been jailed for 22 years, the longest sentence handed to anyone involved in the US Capitol riot.

Henry “Enrique” Tarrio was convicted of seditious conspiracy, a US Civil War-era charge, and other counts in May.

Tarrio, 39, was not in Washington during the riot, but the court heard he helped organise the far-right group’s involvement.

Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of 33 years in prison.

Before he learned his fate on Tuesday, Tarrio apologised to police and residents of Washington DC for his role in the 6 January 2021 riot.

“I am extremely ashamed and disappointed that they were caused grief and suffering,” he told Washington’s federal courthouse. “I will have to live with that shame for the rest of my life.”

Tarrio, who was wearing an orange jail uniform, added: “I was my own worst enemy.

“My hubris convinced me that I was a victim and targeted unfairly.”

His lawyer argued that Tarrio was a “keyboard ninja” who tended to “talk trash” but had no intention of overthrowing the government.

“My client is no terrorist,” said his attorney, Sabino Jauregui. “My client is a misguided patriot.”

But US District Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump nominee, noted that Tarrio had on many previous occasions expressed no remorse for his actions.

“Seditious conspiracy is a serious offence,” said Judge Kelly. “Mr Tarrio was the ultimate leader of that conspiracy.”

Tarrio stood silently as the judge handed down the sentence. As he left the court, he waved to his family members sitting in the gallery and flashed a peace sign.

In the aftermath of the 2020 election, Tarrio and other Proud Boys had posted threatening messages online, warning of violence and unrest if then-US President Donald Trump left office.

That month, Tarrio replied to an online post by now-President Joe Biden, writing: “YOU need to remember the American people are at war with YOU. No Trump… No peace. No quarter.”

He was arrested after the Proud Boys and other groups rallied in support of Mr Trump in Washington DC on 12 December 2020.

They clashed with far-left anti-fascist activists, and one Proud Boy was stabbed. On that day Tarrio, who is Afro-Cuban, burned a Black Lives Matter banner that had been taken from an African-American church.

When he attempted to return to the national capital two days before the US Capitol riot, Tarrio was arrested for the banner burning.

He was also found with a high-capacity ammunition magazine, which is illegal under the city’s gun laws. He was released on bail and ordered to leave Washington.

On the day of the riot, he was in Baltimore.

As Trump supporters raided the seat of American democracy, Tarrio posted online that he was “enjoying the show”.

“Do what must be done,” he wrote, urging on the rioters.

Last week, four other Proud Boys were handed prison sentences for their roles in the Capitol riot.

Former US Marines Dominic Pezzola and Zachary Rehl received 10 and 15 years, respectively.

Joe Biggs, a US Army veteran, got 17 years. Ethan Nordean was given an 18-year term.

Mr Trump has promised to pardon most or all of the rioters if he’s elected president in 2024.

Tuesday’s hearing was the last in a series of sentencing hearings for the ringleaders of the US Capitol riot.

Until now, the longest sentence had been handed to Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia. He received a term of 18 years in May this year.

In total more than 1,100 people have been arrested on Capitol riot-related charges, resulting in 630 guilty pleas and more than 110 convictions.

Nearly 500 defendants have been sentenced to prison or house arrest. The charges against the rioters have varied – from relatively minor crimes like entering a restricted area, to destruction of government property, assault and conspiracy. Around 200 have pleaded guilty to felony charges.

The investigation is still ongoing – the FBI is still trying to locate 14 rioters captured on video assaulting police officers or members of the media.

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