Washington, 5 Sept (EFE).- Cuban-born Enrique Tarrio, leader of the far-right Proud Boys organization, was sentenced Tuesday by the District of Columbia federal court to 22 years in prison for the Capitol Hill riots on January 6, 2021.
According to U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly said, “Mr. Tarrio was the ultimate leader of this conspiracy.
Tarrio, 39, was found guilty of sedition last May after a four-month trial and, so far, is the highest-ranking member of the Proud Boys to be sentenced.
His sentence is also the longest yet, with the other members facing 10 to 18 years penalties.
The Department of Justice had sought 33 years, arguing that Tarrio was the leader of a seditious conspiracy and of a failed plan to prevent the peaceful transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden.
Tarrio attended the hearing wearing his orange prison jumpsuit. Some of his relatives intervened to ask the judge for clemency, and Tarrio also spoke to express how sorry he was for what had happened and to ask for forgiveness.
Standing before the judge in an orange jumpsuit, Tarrio said he had spent “the last year and a half trying to figure out how I ended up at this podium.”
“On November 3, 2020, something that I never expected happened – my candidate lost. I felt like something was personally stolen from me. Every media channel that I turned to told me I was justified”, he added.
Tarrio, born in Miami to Cuban parents, led the Proud Boys since 2018.
However, he was not in Washington during the Capitol attack because of a restraining order prohibiting him from approaching the capital, after being arrested days earlier for burning a flag at a historic African-American community church.
Instead, he was at a hotel in Baltimore, about 72 kilometers (45 miles) from the Capitol.
Nevertheless, he had spent the previous days sending instructions to other Proud Boys members on what to do during the January 6 march called by Trump to “Stop the steal.”
His attorneys tried to base their defense on Tarrio’s distance from the scene.
“My client’s plan were not to destroy property or attack security forces,” his lawyer said.
Last Friday, the leader of the organization in Seattle, Ethan Nordean, was also sentenced to 18 years in prison, after he was seen in January 6 2021, leading a group of protesters with a bullhorn just before the riot began.
The same day, Dominic Pezzola, who broke the first window protesters used to enter the Capitol with a stolen police shield, was sentenced to 10 years.
On Thursday, Joseph Biggs, Tarrio’s lieutenant, and Zachary Rehl, the former Philadelphia leader, were sentenced to 17 and 15 years in prison, respectively.
Rehl, Biggs, Nordean and Tarrio were found guilty in May of conspiracy to riot. Pezzola was acquitted of that charge but found guilty of assault, resisting a law enforcement officer and theft of government property.
According to the Department of Justice, the attack began at 10:00 a.m. when Biggs, Rehl, and others convinced about 200 people to walk from the Ellipse, the park south of the White House, to the Capitol by jumping several security barriers.
On January 6, 2021, about 10,000 people – most of them Trump supporters – marched toward the Capitol, and about 800 stormed the building. There were five deaths and about 140 injured.