Sunland Park border militia leader in federal custody following Albuquerque incident

Border Report

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KTSM) — The man convicted of impersonating a Border Patrol agent in Sunland Park is in federal custody after a judge determined he violated terms of his release.

James Christopher Benvie, known as Jim Benvie on his social media platforms, was found guilty in New Mexico Federal Court on March 2, 202, for impersonating a Border Patrol agent near Anapra in April 2019 — at the height of the immigration crisis. The incident was streamed live on Facebook by Benvie and members of the United Constitutional Patriots (later renamed the Guardian Patriots).

He was convicted of impersonating a federal agent and released pending sentencing. As part of his conditional release, the court ordered Benvie to stay in New Mexico and live at an approved halfway house facility. Benvie made his way to Albuquerque and moved into the La Posada halfway house, where he got a job managing Filling Philly’s, a downtown cheesesteak shop. The halfway house allowed Benvie to leave the facility for work purposes only.

On Aug. 2, during a Black Lives Matter protest in Downtown Albuquerque, videos were posted on social media of a group of armed militia members guarding the Filling Philly’s from the peaceful protesters. Benvie claimed he invited the New Mexico Civil Guard to the shop after a previous Downtown protest resulted in damage to the restaurant’s storefront.

The video of the New Mexico Civil Guard inside the Filling Philly’s went viral, revealing that Benvie was out of the halfway house past his marked working hours.

According to federal documents filed Tuesday, Benvie clocked out of the restaurant at 5:17 p.m. and called La Posada at 12:30 a.m. to pick him up from work. He did not clock in at the halfway house until 1:08 a.m.

During Tuesday’s virtual hearing, his boss said Benvie would often stay past his regular shift and watch live stream videos on his phone. She also testified he’d have people visit him at the restaurant.

As a result of the violation of the conditions of release, Judge Robert Brack ordered Benvie held in the custody of the U.S. Marshal Service until a formal sentencing date, which has yet to be set.

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