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Member of armed militia who detained migrants faced similar charges in 2006

Larry Mitchell Hopkins, arrested on Saturday, was also arrested in Oregon in 2006 for impersonating a police officer while unlawfully carrying a firearm as a convicted felon

A member of an armed civilian group that has detained migrants near the US-Mexico border who was arrested on Saturday reportedly faced similar charges in Oregon 13 years ago.

In Sunland Park, Texas on Saturday, FBI agents and local police arrested Larry Mitchell Hopkins, 69, on suspicion of being a felon in possession of firearms.

In Klamath county, Oregon in 2006, Hopkins was accused of impersonating a police officer and claimed to be a fugitive bounty hunter, the Santa Few New Mexican reported. In his guilty plea, Hopkins acknowledged he had given the impression to others that I was a peace officer while unlawfully carrying a firearm as a convicted felon.

Hopkins latest arrest came after federal authorities warned private groups to avoid policing the border.

Videos circulated on social media have shown armed civilians detaining large groups of Central American families in New Mexico.

Armed civilian groups have been common on the US border for years, especially when large numbers of migrants are present. But many of the migrants crossing now are children.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has called for an investigation into pro-Trump, anti-immigrant men who have been patrolling the border, calling themselves the United Constitutional Patriots (UCP).

The ACLU in New Mexico described the group as an armed fascist militia organization made up of vigilantes and said they were working to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum, making illegal arrests and holding migrants at gunpoint.

Hopkins was booked into the Dona Ana county detention center in Las Cruces. It was not known if he had an attorney. The FBI said he was from Flora Vista, a rural community in New Mexico about 353 miles north of Sunland Park, a suburb of El Paso.

Frank Fisher, an FBI spokesman in Albuquerque, said additional information would not be released until after Hopkins appeared in federal court on Monday.

In the 2006 incident in Oregon, a sheriffs office report said Hopkins was found at a gas station in Keno showing firearms to youth and telling them he was a police officer. Hopkins displayed a badge that said special agent and had numerous medals pinned to his shirt, according to the report obtained by the Santa Fe New Mexican.

The newspaper said the court records were uncovered by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups and extremists in the US.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Mexicos foreign ministry expressed profound concern at the activities of intimidation and extortion of migrants on the part of militia groups on the border of New Mexico.

These types of practices, it said, can lead to the trampling of human rights of people who migrate or who solicit asylum or refuge in the United States.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/apr/21/member-armed-militia-detained-migrants-similar-charges-2006

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