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Justice Department argues Proud Boys leader should stay in jail ahead of trial

“Based on the compelling evidence of Tarrio’s leadership of this conspiracy, there are no conditions of release that can reasonably assure the safety of the community or the defendant’s appearance in court. And based on Tarrio’s public comments aimed at chilling witnesses against his co-conspirators, as well as his own purported efforts to evade law enforcement, he poses a risk of obstructing justice should he be released,” the department said in a filing in federal court.

Prosecutors specifically highlighted Tarrio texting in an encrypted message chat on January 6: “They’ll fear us doing it again,” after claiming, “We did this,” about the Capitol attack. When a member of the group asked what to do next, Tarrio responded, “Do it again.”

Monday’s filing also revealed a new detail about an alleged meeting Tarrio had with Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers, and others at a parking garage in Washington, DC, on January 5. Rhodes and other Oath Keepers are facing seditious conspiracy charges in a separate January 6 case.

While in the garage, Tarrio told a person, who was not identified, that he had wiped all messages on his phone and had a two-factor authentication set up to make his phone difficult to access for others, the Justice Department said.

A federal judge in Florida on Tuesday is set to decide whether Tarrio stays detained.

Tarrio is the latest high-profile defendant indicted by the Justice Department in its sweeping investigation of January 6. He was added to an existing case against several other Proud Boys leaders and a man that the Justice Department believes was the first person to break into a Senate-side window, allowing the crowd to surge toward elected officials inside. Other Proud Boys members in the case are detained awaiting trial.

Prosecutors said in their filing on Monday that Tarrio is accused of a serious criminal conspiracy, stating that “the danger posed by this plot shows an extreme disregard for the safety of the community and the laws of the United States.”

Tarrio was previously arrested and served jail time for destroying a church’s Black Lives Matter banner in downtown DC. He was not in the city on January 6, having been ordered by a judge to leave because of his arrest days before.

Prosecutors described how Tarrio, after leaving DC on January 4, stayed in communication with a rally planning group within the Proud Boys called the Ministry of Self Defense, or MOSD. Their first event, according to prosecutors, was the January 6 Donald Trump rally in Washington, and Tarrio sent the group a voice message on January 4 acknowledging they wanted to “storm the Capitol.”

“Tarrio directed and orchestrated the MOSD’s violent acts entirely remotely — using encrypted media and social media in the weeks leading up to January 6, and on the day itself, to organize, direct, and celebrate the success of a criminal conspiracy to obstruct the Certification of the Electoral College vote,” prosecutors wrote.

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