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Lawyer: Border militia boss hurt in jail

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Larry Mitchell Hopkins

The jailed “commander” of the United Constitutionalist Patriots, Larry Mitchell Hopkins, received medical treatment after an altercation at the Doña Ana County Detention Center, according to his attorney.

“They got him in the ribs. They could have thrown him into a table or something,” said Kelly O’Connell, Hopkins’ attorney. O’Connell originally said his client was hospitalized with broken ribs. Later, he said he learned Hopkins received medical treatment at the jail.

Hopkins, 69, is being held without bail on charges of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.

“My question is, are they not prepared to deal with a high-profile defendant? If they can’t protect him, don’t they need to rethink their mission?” O’Connell asked.

Hopkins, also known as Johnny Horton Jr., told the Journal last month that he was the “commander” of the United Constitutional Patriots, an armed group that set up camp in Sunland Park near the border fence to patrol the area. Video of armed members of the group standing over migrants has appeared on television news stations, sparking controversy nationwide.

But the few United Constitutional Patriots at the campsite near the border fence were evicted from the property late Tuesday afternoon.

Union Pacific owns the land, which is next to railroad tracks, and the roads leading to the campsite and notified the group that it had to leave by Friday. However, on Tuesday afternoon, railroad police accompanied by Sunland Park police officers and Border Patrol agents escorted from the site the three members of the United Constitutional Patriots still on the property.

A spokesman for the group told the Journal the “volunteer patriots” would look for another place in the area to set up camp near the border.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Hopkins’ attorney “hand-delivered” a letter to the Doña Ana County jail asking for medical records, reports and video related to the jail incident. O’Connell said that he talked to his client on the phone after the altercation and that Hopkins was “beaten, bruised, injured, dazed and – thoroughly demoralized,” he wrote in the letter.

“An alleged battery at the Doña Ana County Detention Center is under investigation,” according to county spokeswoman Kelly Jameson. The incident was reported after 9 p.m. Monday, according to the news release from Jameson.

“Hopkins was given medical attention for non-life-threatening injuries. He was transferred out of the Doña Ana County Detention Center under the direction of the U.S. Marshals Service on Tuesday,” Jameson said.

She did not know where Hopkins was moved. He has a pretrial hearing scheduled in Albuquerque on Monday on weapons charges.

Sunland Park police and FBI agents arrested him Saturday on weapons charges that are not related to his activity on the border and date back two years.

According to the criminal complaint, Hopkins was in unlawful possession of nine firearms and ammunition at his Flora Vista home in 2017. He had three prior felony convictions, including possessing a loaded firearm in Michigan in 1996, being a felon in possession of a firearm in Oregon and “impersonating a peace officer” in Oregon in 2006, according to the FBI.

According to his attorney, Hopkins was not armed while at the Sunland Park campsite. He was among the small group of United Constitutional Patriots who went to the border two months ago after hearing about an influx of migrants.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico called for an investigation after the group posted video on social media last week showing armed members of the United Constitutional Patriots standing over a group of migrants. Most of those crossing the border in Sunland Park are parents and children who turn themselves in to Border Patrol and ask for asylum.

Hopkins’ attorney wants him released on bail.

“I’d like to get him out. He’s 69 years old. He’s not in great shape. He’s corpulent. He’d have a hard time walking down the block,” O’Connell said.

Hopkins’ attorney said his client is not a flight risk.

“He’s definitely not going to run to Mexico, for obvious reasons,” O’Connell said.