Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was released from jail on Friday. Rather than a happy homecoming, Tarrio returns beleaguered by accusations and suspicions about his finances, his loyalty, and his honor.
Leaked and public posts indicate that some Proud Boys are rejecting their longtime leader. And recent charges of seditious conspiracy against Oath Keepers accused in the Capitol riot have only heightened tensions.
The group built on trust and brotherhood may be crumbling at long last.
Tarrio didn’t respond to an email sent to an address found in the Epik hack. A business he’s associated with also didn’t respond to an email.
Tarrio was in jail for misdemeanor vandalism and weapons charges. He was arrested in Washington, D.C. two days before the Capitol riot. He pled guilty last summer and was sentenced to five months.
Although the circumstances were a bit strange—a precondition of his Jan. 5, 2021 release was leaving the city, which kept him away from Capitol riot—his standing with the Proud Boys probably would’ve been little affected by his conviction. Catching charges is par for the course, even a badge of honor, in extremist groups.
Then, weeks after his arrest, Reuters reported that he’d been a “prolific” informant for federal and local authorities some years prior. The news went off like a bomb in the Proud Boys. Tarrio feigned ignorance, but his reputation took a major hit. Members began publicly wondering whether their leader was telling authorities tales about them.
Recent posts indicate that some Proud Boys still aren’t over what they view as a betrayal.
Since he got out of jail, comments on Enrique’s Gulag of Propaganda Telegram channel have been vicious at times. “How long before the feds come snooping in here,” a subscriber recently wondered. There have been calls for Tarrio to change his Telegram bio to omit “chairman,” his title within the Proud Boys.
As of this writing, his bio still describes him as chairman. Suspicions about his loyalty remain, however.
Miami Against Fascism provided the Daily Dot a post from the day Tarrio got out of jail in which a Miami-based Proud Boys chapter called him “the dishonorable disavowed former traitorous mouthpiece” for the group.
“Although Henry is not a PB since summer 2021, we wish him no more harm, and success in his future endeavors as long as he does not try to start up illegitimate PB Chapter in [Florida] to regain his past clout chasing failed glories that harmed many,” the Vice City chapter wrote. (Henry is Tarrio’s legal first name.)
The post included a screenshot of a tweet showing Tarrio meeting with Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes on Jan. 5 in Washington, D.C. Rhodes didn’t enter the Capitol that day. He was nevertheless charged with seditious conspiracy last week. These circumstances and the fact that Tarrio hasn’t been charged over the attack is fueling further speculation that he’s working with the feds.
After he got out of jail, Vice City opined that, due to this meeting and Rhodes’ recent arrest for seditious conspiracy, Tarrio is likely going back in “soon.”
Screenshots provided by Miami Against Fascism show that Vice City has continued slamming him in recent days. One post includes the dubious claim that Tarrio prostituted himself to a “BLM crip gang” during his incarceration.
They’re not the only ones coming after Tarrio since his release. Other accusations against him are both more serious and less outlandish.
On Sunday, Floridians First posted an Instagram story called “Tarrio is a rat” in which it accused him of numerous misdeeds and betrayals.
Floridians First claims that, in addition to the grounds that he had secretly been a federal informant, Tarrio was kicked out of the Proud Boys last summer for “being a paid FBI contractor,” stealing more than $10,000 from the Proud Boys, keeping money members paid for merchandise and not delivering, and stealing funds from members of Latinos for Trump for which it says he was “ousted.”
“He is not a Proud Boy and he is not a patriot or a good man,” Floridians First wrote.
It’s quite a turnaround for a group that proudly featured Tarrio as a speaker at events as recently as last spring.
Latinos for Trump didn’t respond to inquiries about Tarrio and the circumstances of his departure from the organization. Floridians First also didn’t respond to requests for additional information about its allegations.
Accusations of theft would likely be a sore spot for Proud Boys, particularly those charged in the Capitol riot struggling to pay lawyers and take care of their families. Tarrio has a track record of asking for, and receiving, significant financial support. Screenshots posted by a Twitter account that researches the far-right, as well as current and former fundraisers, show that he’s raised more than $200,000 for himself, his family, and his defense in the last year. Because he pled guilty to two misdemeanors, it’s likely his legal fees were significantly less than the Proud Boys who are fighting federal felonies—a fact which has probably not escaped them.
And if, as Floridians First alleges, Tarrio took money for merchandise and never delivered, that would be like salt in an open wound.
Last June, Business Insider reported that Tarrio had a “secret business” selling T-shirts and other merchandise. The Daily Dot is the first outlet to reveal that Tarrio is associated with a T-shirt company called Culper Ring Clothing, according to screenshots of records from the Epik hack provided by Miami Against Fascism.
The records show that Henry Tarrio is the administrator of Culper Ring Clothing’s website. The email address associated with both Culper Ring Clothing and EndAntifa.com shares the name of a business that was registered to Tarrio as recently as 2019, according to Florida records.
The now-inactive Proud Boys limited liability corporation was also registered to Henry Tarrio at the same Miami, Florida address as this business.
Culper Ring Clothing sells apparel with conservative slogans. A “FAFO” hat (an acronym for “fuck around find out,” a popular Proud Boys saying) for sale on the site is in standard Proud Boys yellow and black and includes an image of laurel that appears on much group merchandise.
A Telegram channel called Culper Ring Shirt Company launched Sept. 6, the same day Tarrio reported to jail. The channel, which includes “PB” in its URL, advertised a variety of custom and generic Proud Boys branded merchandise. Each post included a link to the Culper Ring Clothing website.
Culper Ring didn’t respond to an inquiry from the Daily Dot sent to an email address listed on the website.
The “Culper Ring” refers to a network of spies from the Revolutionary War. Proud Boys delight in fantasizing that they’re like the American rebels who gained independence from the British. “Today is 1776” was among the more popular slogans used by Capitol rioters, whose ranks allegedly included many Proud Boys.
Twitter user @getsthegoods noted that Tarrio used the pseudonym Henry Culper on Facebook at one point.
After the initial burst of outrage over his being a police informant last winter, Tarrio’s troubles with the Proud Boys quieted down, at least on the surface. Then, in August, a few weeks before he reported to jail, controversy again spilled into the open.
Miami Against Fascism reported that the Miami Proud Boys had voted to disavow Tarrio. Vice City, his local chapter, reportedly accused him of lying about being a federal informant. Miami Against Fascism obtained audio in which another purported Proud Boys leader said that “all the brothers want to beat his ass” and claimed Tarrio didn’t show up for an internal disciplinary procedure known as “Proud Boy Sharia Court.”
He may have remained a member of the group nevertheless. Miami Against Fascism reports that national leaders have to vote for an expulsion to be official. It’s unknown if this ever occurred and, if so, what the outcome was.
Screenshots show Tarrio was defiant last summer, telling people that he wasn’t going anywhere.
This wasn’t the only door shutting on Tarrio. Around the same time, Tarrio’s name disappeared from Latinos for Trump’s website, where he had been chief of staff and an advisor to the board of directors.
It’s not known what circumstances led to Tarrio leaving Latinos for Trump. Leadership for Latinos for Trump didn’t respond to inquires the Daily Dot sent Tuesday afternoon.
Tarrio claimed that he left Latinos for Trump of his own volition. On Aug. 30, Tarrio posted on Telegram that he was resigning due to his jail sentence. “I will not be able to perform my necessary duties and I would find it unfair for me to remain in this position given my current circumstances.”
Days after announcing his resignation from Latinos for Trump, Tarrio reported to jail to serve a five-month sentence.
Disgruntled Proud Boys weren’t content to keep their silence while he was incarcerated.
In October, the Vice City chapter posted a message on Telegram referring to Tarrio as the Proud Boys’ “former disgraced leader.” Weeks later, the channel posted a photoshopped image of Tarrio in bed with President Joe Biden captioned “Feds that creep together, sleep together.”
Vice City may have later had a change of heart. On Christmas Eve, the main Proud Boys Telegram channel posted a purported press release in which the chapter rescinded its “disavowal” of Tarrio and recognized his chapter, Villain City, as “legitimate.” The message also apologized for being a source of “unnecessary drama.”
“We are working on a path forward. Making peace with our chairman, Enrique, is the start,” it said.
It’s not clear that this message was authentic, however, as Vice City has recently written scathing things about Tarrio on Telegram. After he got out of jail, it posted a meme of him photoshopped with a rat’s tail and called him “Reeeky the rat.”
Miami Against Fascism told the Daily Dot via Twitter message that it’s: “Hard to make heads or tails out of it because they use so many gimmicks and trolls even between each other.” They also said it’s possible that the message rescinding its disavowal was forged by one of Tarrio’s allies.
Other observers have wondered why Tarrio hasn’t been charged with any crime associated with the Capitol riot. Many believe it’s because he’s an informant.
Tarrio has insisted that neither he nor the Proud Boys were involved in planning the attack on Congress.
Federal authorities claim otherwise. According to evidence being used against Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs, who was also charged with seditious conspiracy last week, the groups formed an alliance in the weeks leading up to the Capitol riot.
Prosecutors say that two weeks before the attack, Meggs sent a Facebook message that said “we will probably be guarding [redacted] or someone during the day but then at night we have orchestrated a plan with the Proud Boys[.] I’ve been communicating with the leader [redacted].”
The following day, authorities claim Meggs messaged someone else to “wait for the 6th when we are all in DC to insurrection.”
Oath Keepers who’ve been charged in the riot guarded Roger Stone earlier that day. At the time of the riot, Tarrio was unquestionably the leader of the Proud Boys.
It’s also noteworthy that Tarrio’s been subpoenaed by the January 6th Committee and intends to cooperate. As he left jail on Jan. 14, he told journalist Ford Fischer that he plans to comply “to the best of my ability.” He reportedly said that he’s “absolutely not” worried about testifying.
“That’s not an issue for me,” he said.
Tarrio did serve less time than Proud Boys charged in the attack on the Capitol are facing. Proud Boys leader Joe Biggs has already spent more time in jail awaiting trial for his alleged role in the Capitol riot than Tarrio served on the weapons and vandalism charges.
This fact hasn’t escaped Proud Boys’ attention. Posts on Tarrio’s Telegram channel the day he was released called him a “fed honeypot” and included a (possibly photoshopped) photo of him in an FBI hat.
It’s unknown exactly how much of this has reached Tarrio’s ears. But he is aware there’s trouble in Proud Boys paradise.
Days before his release, Tarrio told the Miami New Times in a phone call from jail, “Once I get back and organize the mess in South Florida’s Proud Boys, I’m gonna take a step back from leadership. It’s something I should have done before, and that was my mistake.”
Tarrio may know that he doesn’t have much of a choice.