On Tuesday, Enrique Tarrio, the former chairman of the Proud Boys, received a 22-year prison sentence, marking the longest prison term issued in the extensive investigation by the Justice Department into the January 6th Capitol breach. Prosecutors had initially sought a 33-year prison term.
Enrique Tarrio, also known as Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, has been incarcerated since his arrest in 2022 and was recently convicted by a Washington, D.C. jury on various charges, including seditious conspiracy. Similar to his co-defendants in the case, not all charges against Tarrio resulted in convictions.
In comparison, Ethan Nordean, another co-defendant, received an 18-year sentence last week, while other individuals involved in the incident received sentences ranging from 10 to 17 years. Tarrio’s sentencing had been scheduled earlier but was postponed due to the illness of U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly.
Despite not being physically present at the Capitol on January 6th, Enrique Tarrio was characterized by prosecutors in their sentencing documents as the “principal instigator” of the conspiracy for which he and his co-defendants were convicted. They asserted that he leveraged his considerable influence to “endorse and encourage violence” in others, likening him to a leader rather than a mere participant.
Evidence presented during the trial revealed that after the 2020 presidential election, Tarrio began making posts on social media and in messaging groups discussing a “civil war” and later issuing threats such as “No Trump…No peace. No Quarter.” As the date of January 6th approached, he escalated his rhetoric by discussing “revolt.”
On the day of the riot, Tarrio’s co-defendants—Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, and Dominic Pezzola—alongside other members of the Proud Boys, assembled and marched towards the Capitol. They confronted law enforcement officers and ultimately breached the building where Congress was in the process of certifying President Biden’s victory. Pezzola was the only co-defendant not convicted of the most severe charge of seditious conspiracy during the trial, but he was found guilty of using a stolen police riot shield to break a Capitol window.
During the riot, Tarrio reportedly wrote on social media, “Make no mistake, we did this,” as per trial evidence.
During Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, Judge Kelly presided over the final of five proceedings related to the Proud Boys case within the past week. Throughout these hearings, he imposed varying sentences, including one that was half of what the government had initially requested, which was a ten-year prison term for Dominic Pezzola.
Judge Kelly emphasized during Tarrio’s sentencing that the evidence demonstrated Enrique Tarrio as the ultimate leader and organizer driven by a revolutionary fervor. He noted that Tarrio’s absence on January 6th served strategic purposes, allowing his subordinates to agitate the crowd and create distance between him and the events that unfolded that day. Judge Kelly also expressed his view that Tarrio had not displayed any remorse for his convictions.
Prosecutors had sought to apply a terrorism-related enhancement to the sentences, alleging that the defendants had retaliated against the government. However, Judge Kelly did not heavily factor these considerations into the sentences he ultimately handed down.
One defense attorney, arguing against the terrorism-related enhancement, described Tarrio as a “misguided patriot,” not a terrorist. Another attorney mentioned Tarrio’s Cuban American heritage and characterized his post-attack rhetoric as merely inflammatory speech.
In response, Judge Kelly rebuked Tarrio for likening his co-defendants’ actions during the Capitol attack to the actions of the country’s founders, stating that Tarrio’s comparisons were a distortion.
Judge Kelly concluded the proceedings by emphasizing the importance of the peaceful transfer of power in the United States and how it is central to the country’s experiment in self-government by the people. He emphasized that the events of January 6th did not honor the founders of the nation and were precisely the type of actions the Constitution was designed to prevent.