Border militia group distances itself from threat suspect

Immigration

The armed militia group that gained national attention last month after posting a Facebook video of them detaining migrants near Sunland Park is now changing its name to distance itself from a man accused of making violent threats towards migrants.

The group initially known as the United Constitutional Patriots have been camped out near the border fence in Anapra since February. Just days ago, the group decided to change their name to the Guardian Patriots, telling KTSM they don’t want to be associated with a man they turned in to local authorities.

The Guardian Patriot’s spokesperson, Jim Benvie, says a man who was spending time in the area told them he wanted to join their group and said he supported their cause.

“He was not a member and was somebody that we filed a police report on because some of the things he said were disturbing,” Benvie said. 

However, shortly after joining them, leaders reported him to police when he allegedly started making neo-nazi threats in reference to incoming migrants. 

“Something made a noise in the trees and he immediately ran back to his truck and grabbed his gun and said, “do I need to shoot?” That’s not the type of people we need at the border,” Benvie told KTSM.

Benvie said the man was not part of the group and had shown up on the day they relocated. He was asked to leave and the group called the police to let them know about his comments. 

After reading the police report, the City of Sunland Park Mayor said this concerned officials over the safety of anyone living or coming into the area where the militia group has been patrolling.

“They made some comments about lining up the immigrants and shooting them, which is again very alarming and I am happy to see that they reported that,” Perea said. 

Perea says Sunland Park Police continue to patrol the area and prefer civilians leave these issues to the professionals to avoid any danger. 

“It is a little bit alarming if the statements are true to have individuals with that type of rhetoric sitting there at the border with guns, but we here at the City continue to stress the main priority is the safety of our residents,” said Perea. 

Benvie says they have not seen the man since they reported him to Sunland Park Police, but added that any new members must go through a vetting system before they are allowed to join.

The group’s Commander, Larry Mitchell Hopkins, was arrested by the FBI on April 20 on federal charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm stemming from an incident unrelated to their Sunland Park campsite. A court date has not yet been set for his trial. 

The group was removed from Union Pacific Railroad land in late April but has since relocated to an undisclosed location on private property. 

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