The FBI arrested on Saturday the head of a right-wing militia that had been detaining migrant families at gunpoint. Law enforcement officers arrested Larry Mitchell Hopkins, who went by the alias Johnny Horton Jr., in New Mexico on charges of firearms possession by a felon.
Hopkins had previously been arrested in 2006 on charges of impersonating an officer and for felony firearm possession.
“This is a dangerous felon who should not have weapons around children and families,” the New Mexico attorney general, Hector Balderas, said in a statement. “Today’s arrest by the F.B.I. indicates clearly that the rule of law should be in the hands of trained law enforcement officials, not armed vigilantes.”
The arrest came two days after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) accused the group of illegally detaining migrants and New Mexico’s Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered an investigation.
Hopkins, 69, also known as Johnny Horton, was arrested in Sunland Park, New Mexico, on a federal complaint charging him with being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.
“We’re not worried about it, he’s going to be cleared,” said Jim Benvie, a spokesman for the United Constitutional Patriots (UCP), blaming his arrest on political pressure from Lujan Grisham.
Larry Mitchell Hopkins, also known as Johnny Horton Jr., is expected to have an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Las Cruces on Monday. The public is reminded that all defendants are considered innocent unless convicted in a court of law.
— FBI Albuquerque (@FBIAlbuquerque) April 21, 2019
In February, I reported on Hopkins’ unusual arrest record, which appeared to indicate he was prohibited from possessing firearms. He’d pleaded guilty in 2006 to being a felon in possession of a firearm and no contest to impersonating a peace officer. https://t.co/nzJH51kTIg
— Nick Martin (@nickmartin) April 21, 2019
Please see below release: pic.twitter.com/hFte1F1vNQ
— NM Attorney General (@NewMexicoOAG) April 20, 2019