Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio said Tuesday that he "doesn't recall" being an informant for federal and state law enforcement—but a former federal prosecutor and court records obtained by Reuters might jog his memory. Vanessa Singh Johannes, the former prosecutor, says that after a 2012 arrest in a fraud case, Tarrio "cooperated with local and federal law enforcement, to aid in the prosecution of those running other, separate criminal enterprises, ranging from running marijuana grow houses in Miami to operating pharmaceutical fraud schemes." Tarrio is the national leader of the far-right group. He was arrested and banned from Washington, DC, days before the Capitol riot. Prosecutors say he burned a Black Lives Matter banner stolen from a church during a previous DC protest.
In a 2014 hearing, a prosecutor and Tarrio's lawyer asked for leniency after he pleaded guilty to a fraud case involving stolen diabetes test kits. The lawyer, Jeffery Feiler, described Tarrio as a "prolific" cooperator with law enforcement who had worked undercover in several investigations, including one involving a human-smuggling ring. An FBI agent testified that Tarrio had been a "key component" in drug investigations. Several Proud Boys members have been arrested for their involvement in the Capitol riot. Johannes says she was surprised to find out Tarrio had a major role in the organization. "I knew that he was a fraudster, but had no reason to know that he was also a domestic terrorist," she tells Reuters. (Read more Proud Boys stories.)