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. A probable cause statement said FBI agents visited the New Mexico home of Larry Hopkins, leader of the United Constitutional Patriots, in November 2017 after a caller to an FBI tip line reported militia activity and the assassination claim, CNN reports. Agents said that at the home, they found ammunition and nine firearms that Hopkins, 69, was not allowed to own because of his three felony convictions, including a 2006 conviction for criminal impersonation of a police officer in Oregon, reports NPR.
Hopkins was arrested Saturday. At the court appearance Monday, agents did not explain why they had waited so long after the 2017 visit to arrest him on federal gun charges, though his lawyer, Kelly O'Connell, suggested the bust happened due to pressure from Democrats angered by the militia's activities, the New York Times reports. UCP members, who have set up a camp near the border in New Mexico, have been stopping migrant families crossing the border and detaining them until Border Patrol agents arrive. Militia spokesman Jim Benvie tells the Albuquerque Journal that the group has not been breaking any laws by patrolling the border with weapons. "Our guys are carrying for protection. We're just a group of volunteer patriots, veterans in law enforcement," he says, adding that Hopkins "did not bring a gun" to the camp. (Read more militia stories.)