Leader of border-patrolling militia group trained to assassinate arrested, authorities say

Leader of border-patrolling militia group trained to assassinate arrested, authorities say

The leader of a militia group active near the US-Mexico border allegedly claimed he was training members to assassinate former President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and George Soros, according to documents presented in federal court Monday.

In an affidavit, David S. Gabriel, an FBI special agent, said the bureau was made aware of the activities of Hopkins after receiving reports in October 2017 of "alleged militia extremist activity" in northwestern New Mexico.

The complaint continues stating that "witnesses reported seeing members of the United Constitutional Patriots bearing firearms at Hopkin's residence".

The group says it is helping Border Patrol deal with the recent surge of Central American migrants crossing the border. At least two videos posted on the group's Facebook page depict a man in fatigues verbally identifying himself as "Border Patrol" as he stops a group of migrants.

But Mr O'Connell questioned why it had taken some two years to charge his client.

After the 2017 search of Hopkins's residence in New Mexico, FBI agents contacted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and determined that none of the firearms collected from the home was manufactured in New Mexico, opening the door to possible additional charges of transporting the weapons in interstate commerce, a federal offense. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation he was first convicted of illegal weapons possession in MI in 1996, and then again in Klamath County, Oregon, in 2006, along with a charge of impersonating a peace officer.

Elizabeth Martinez, a spokeswoman for the USA attorney's office in New Mexico, declined to comment on the delay in charging Hopkins.

"We are detaining people but not illegally". But, unlike previous times, numerous migrants are children. He described the close connection between the militias and CBP, "The border patrol would come to the base every day, they would sometimes bring us donuts".

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"I'm not a militia specialist", O'Connell said when asked about the motives of Hopkins and other members of the armed group.

"We can not allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum", the ACLU of New Mexico said in a letter to state authorities last week. Fast-forward to 2019 and Hopkins is, once again, in trouble with the law.

The 69-year-old Hopkins has been charged with the possession of a firearm as a felon, and faces up to ten years in prison if convicted.

"This arrest has absolutely nothing to do with what they're doing down there, on the surface anyway", said Kelly O'Connell, Hopkins' lawyer.

The group's "actions undermine the legitimate efforts of our state's law enforcement officials to keep New Mexico families safe and they erode community trust", the letter reads.

The American Civil Liberties Union has described the UCP as a "fascist militia" and charge that members frequently illegally detain and kidnap migrants by impersonating law enforcement and many UCP members are veterans of the United States special forces.

Mexico's Foreign Relations Department, in a statement issued Saturday, expressed "profound concern at the activities of intimidation and extortion of migrants on the part of militia groups on the border of New Mexico".

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