FBI arrests right-wing militia leader for detaining migrants

New Mexico: The FBI on Saturday arrested the leader of a right-wing militia for detaining groups of migrant families at gunpoint on Southern border of United States.

The agents have detained Larry Mitchell Hopkins, who had been operating as Johnny Horton Jr. He has been charged with firearms possession by a felon.

“Today’s arrest by the FBI indicates clearly that the rule of law should be in the hands of trained law enforcement officials, not armed vigilantes. This is a dangerous felon who should not have weapons around children and families,” The New York Times quoted Hector Balderas, New Mexico’s attorney general, as saying.

The arrest comes a day after the New York Times reported on an ultraconservative paramilitary group, United Constitutional Patriots, operating along the southwestern border.

The activity of the group came into light after it posted a 45-minute video in which they could be seen detaining around 200 migrants who had crossed the southern border near Sunland Park. They were later handed over to Border Patrol agents.

They have attracted a lot of criticism from the government and various human rights activists.

New Mexico government has condemned the act and termed it unlawful. In a statement, Hector Balderas said: “These individuals should not attempt to exercise authority reserved for law enforcement.”

The American Civil Liberties Union denounced the militia’s actions in a letter on Friday that asked New Mexico’s governor and attorney general to investigate the matter. The ACLU said the militia had no legal authority under New Mexico or federal law to detain or arrest migrants in the United States.

“We cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum,” two lawyers for the ACLU, María Martínez Sánchez and Kirsten Greer Love, said in the letter.

However, The United Constitutional Patriots have claimed that they have done nothing unconstitutional.

“We are just here to support the Border Patrol and show the public the reality of the border,” Jim Benvie, the spokesman for the United Constitutional Patriots said.

Carlos A. Diaz, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, the federal agency that includes the Border Patrol, declined to discuss the episode or the United Constitutional Patriots, but said the agency “does not endorse private groups or organizations taking enforcement matters into their own hands.”