The former leader of the far-right Proud Boys and four members of the group have been charged with incendiary conspiracy in connection with the deadly United States Capitol riot last January.
Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, the former chairman of Proud Boys, and four others associated with the group are being charged in the latest charges against them, US authorities said Monday.
All five defendants have already pleaded not guilty to other criminal charges related to the January 6, 2021 riots.
The new indictment accuses the men — Tarrio, Dominic Pezzola, Ethan Nordean, Joe Biggs and Zachary Rehl — of conspiring to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential victory over Donald Trump.
Trump had reiterated false claims that the election had been “stolen” as a result of widespread voter fraud, including in an incendiary speech to a large crowd of his supporters in Washington, DC, shortly before the Capitol riot.
US prosecutors say Tarrio played a leading role even though he was not in the US capital when the riots broke out.
Police had arrested him two days before the attack in Washington, DC, and charged him with vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner at a historic black church during a protest in December 2020.
Tarrio was released from prison on January 14 after serving his five-month sentence for that case.
The new charges against Proud Boys members are among the most serious to date, but they are not the first of their kind.
Eleven members or associates of the anti-government militia group Oath Keepers, including founder and leader Stewart Rhodes, were charged in January with seditious conspiracy to attack the Capitol.
Three members of the Oath Keepers have already pleaded guilty to these charges, while several others, including Rhodes, have pleaded not guilty and will face charges later this year.
On the morning of Jan. 6, Proud Boys members met at the Washington Monument and marched to the Capitol before Trump finished speaking to thousands of supporters near the White House.
Just before Congress convened a joint session to confirm the election results, a group of Proud Boys followed a crowd of people breaking the barriers at a pedestrian entrance to the Capitol, an indictment said. Several Proud Boys also entered the Capitol after the mob smashed windows and forced doors.
Prosecutors have said the Proud Boys allowed members to communicate on Baofeng radios on specific frequencies.
More than three dozen people accused of the siege of the Capitol have been identified by federal authorities as leaders, members or associates of Proud Boys.
Top officials in the Biden administration have pledged to “do everything” to ensure justice and accountability for the attack on the Capitol.
About 800 people have been accused of taking part in the riots, with about 250 pleading guilty to date.
Meanwhile, a special committee of the US House of Representatives investigating the riots will hold its first public hearing later this week as part of the ongoing investigation.
The panel has issued subpoenas to several top Trump administration officials and advisers, as well as Republican lawmakers, to provide information about what happened on Jan. 6 and in the days leading up to the riots.