The FBI has arrested Larry Mitchell Hopkins, the head of a militia group that has been detaining would-be migrants at the US-Mexico border. The FBI announced that Hopkins, 69, had been arrested on April 20 in Sunland Park, New Mexico on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Hopkins, who often goes by the name of Johnny Horton, is the leader of a militia called the United Constitutional Patriots. The group says it has detained thousands migrants at the border in the last month alone, most of them children. United Constitutional Patriots regularly releases videos of their detentions; the videos show militia members wearing military fatigues and carrying guns. The militia members say they are fighting to defend their flag and their country, but human rights groups, like the American Civil Liberties Union, have denounced the group as a “fascist militia organization.”
Here’s what you need to know about Larry Hopkins:
1. Hopkins Has a Criminal Record Dating Back to at Least 1986 & Has Been Convicted of Impersonating a Police Officer
FBI agents arrested Hopkins on April 20 on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He has a long arrest record, dating back to at least 1986, when he was arrested and convicted of the “felony of false pretenses,” or fraud, in Midland County, Michigan. Decades later, in 2006, Hopkins was arrested in Klamath County, Oregon on charges of impersonating a police officer and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
According to the arrest report filed in Klamath County, police found Hopkins at a gas station showing off a gun to a group of young people. The arrest report says that Hopkinns was also showing the group of juveniles a badge that said “special agent” and was telling them that he was a police officer. Hopkins pleaded guilty to impersonating a police officer and to one count of possessing a firearm.
2. Hopkins Says He Has a Long-Standing Relationship with President Trump & Claims His Militia Shares Information with the Government
Hopkins has repeatedly said that he has sources in the US government that pass along information to him. He told the Southern Poverty Law Center that he was getting tips “from the very top” of the government. He said he didn’t want to tell the SPLC where exactly he was getting his information.
But later, in a radio interview posted by The Renegade Network, Horton said that he had a long-standing relationship with President Trump and that he and the president were in close touch. He said that the president listened to his radio show and that they were exchanging information about the US border — Horton said President Trump was especially interested in the northern border. Explaining where he first met the president, Horton said, “When I was doing music, I met Trump and his first wife when he had the casino in Las Vegas, and I played there numerous times. OK?” Hopkins said. “That’s how I knew him. And Trump and I have kept in touch ever since.”
3. Hopkins Calls Himself an ‘Entertainer’ & Uses the Name of Country Music Legend Johnny Horton
Both on social media and on his YouTube videos, Hopkins uses the name Johnny Horton Jr. It’s a reference to country music legend Johnny Horton, who died in a car crash in 1960. Hopkins describes himself as an “entertainer” and also performs music. Horton says he first met Donald Trump and Ivana Trump when he was performing his music in Las Vegas. Horton also claims that the president listens to his radio show and that they exchange information about the US border.
4. United Constitutional Patriots Says They Detained Over 3,500 People at the Border in March
Hopkins is the leader of a militia group called United Constitutional Patriots. On April 1, Hopkins wrote on his Facebook page about the group’s recent activities at the border. He said the militia had detained over 3,500 would-be migrants in the past month alone. He added that most of the detainees were children whom, he said, were being trafficked by adults. The April 1 Facebook post reads:
“i am off of the border untill after the 11th , people need to see the truth of whats going on on our boder please go to the united constitutional patriots new mexico boreder ops page on face book , live streamed videos of what we are up against and why we need your support, in the last month our group of patriots have stopped over 3500, mostly kids being trafficked by adults , plus alot of young men that are wanted criminals, i will be going back to the border soon we need help, GOD BLESS YOU ALL.”
Horton’s Facebook page includes photos and videos of heavily armed members of his militia standing beside American flags. Many of the men are wearing camouflage; others have bandannas tied around their faces.
5. New Mexico’s Attorney General Called Hopkins a ‘Dangerous Felon’ Who Should not Have Weapons
Please see below release: pic.twitter.com/hFte1F1vNQ
— NM Attorney General (@NewMexicoOAG) April 20, 2019
After Hopkins’ arrest, the attorney general of New Mexico, Hector Balderas, issued a statement praising his arrest. The statement said, “This is a dangerous felon who should not have weapons around children and families. Today’s arrest by the FBI indicates clearly that the rule of law should be in the hands of trained law enforcement officials, not armed vigilantes.”
FBI agents arrested Hopkins in Sunland Park, New Mexico on April 20 on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. Hopkins has a long history of arrests for gun charges and fraud. He is the leader of a militia group, United Constitutional Patriots, which detains would-be migrants at gunpoint along the US-Mexico border.