The armed far-right militia that’s been detaining migrants at the southern border in New Mexico is packing up its temporary encampment at the request of law enforcement.
Members of the United Constitutional Patriots, a far-right militia, had established a base near the border in Sunland Park earlier this month, and were using the base to conduct vigilante immigration enforcement. Their actions came under scrutiny last week after antifa surfaced videos showing militia members rounding up hundreds of migrants at gunpoint and turning them over to Border Patrol agents.
Earlier on Tuesday, remaining members at the encampment were described as “defiant.” “It’s my God-given right to be here,” a member who goes by the name "Viper" told the New York Times. “The guys in Washington say one thing about not wanting us on the ground, but no one from the Border Patrol here has ever told me they don’t want our help.”
Customs and Border Protection said in a statement that they do “not endorse private groups or organizations taking enforcement matters into their own hands.”
On Tuesday evening, though, defiance turned to defeat. By 6 p.m., Sunland Park police chief Javier Guerra reported that the militia had agreed to vacate the encampment. “They decided it wasn’t worth the fight.” Law enforcement were concerned by reports that militia members had been brandishing their weapons at unarmed migrants.
Last weekend, the group’s leader, Larry Mitchell Hopkins, was arrested by the FBI on charges of being a felon in possession of a gun. Federal documents unsealed Monday showed that Hopkins had been on the FBI’s radar since at least October 2017, when they received a tip that the 69-year-old militia leader was training the group to assassinate billionaire George Soros, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton because of their “support of antifa.”
Hopkins is expected to appear in court next week. If he is convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.
Cover: Stinger, a member of Constitutional Patriots New Mexico Border Ops Team militia, is pictured on patrol at the U.S.-Mexico border near Mt. Christo Rey in Sunland Park, New Mexico (PAUL RATJE/AFP/Getty Images).