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'Everything is compromised' | Four Proud Boys leaders indicted on conspiracy charges in connection to Capitol riot

The FBI says the group worried it could face gang charges following the arrest of leader Enrique Tarrio in January.

WASHINGTON — A federal indictment against four leaders of the Proud Boys unsealed on Friday lays out in detail the steps the group allegedly took to avoid law enforcement detection while planning to disrupt the joint session of Congress on January 6.

The indictment includes charges of conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding, obstruction of law enforcement and destruction of government property against four high-ranking members of the Proud Boys:

  • Ethan Nordean, aka “Rufio Panman,” the 30-year-old leader of the Proud Boys Elders chapter and president of the Washington state chapter.
  • Joseph Biggs, aka “Sergeant Biggs” a 37-year-old Proud Boys organizer from Florida.
  • Zachary Rehl, 35, the president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Proud Boys.
  • Charles Donohoe, 33, the president of a Proud Boys chapter in North Carolina.

Nordean and Biggs were previously charged individually, and at least some of the details in the indictment – like instructions for Proud Boys to come dressed “incognito” and to use encrypted messaging apps and handheld Chinese radios – have previously been alleged in court.

Among the new information are revelations about the worries that spread through the group after Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was arrested in D.C. in the days before the “Stop the Steal” rally. According to the indictment, after Tarrio’s arrest the Proud Boys were concerned their encrypted communications would be compromised. The indictment alleges that Donohoe created a new encrypted channel and “took steps to destroy or ‘nuke’ the earlier channel.”

Donohoe allegedly went further, posting that, “Everything is compromised and we can be looking at gang charges.”

Another new encrypted channel, called “Boots on the Ground,” was made on January 5. The FBI alleges that during the riot more than 60 users participated in that channel.

At 9:09 p.m. on January 5, the FBI says users on the new encrypted channels received instructions telling them, “Rufio is in charge, cops are the primary threat, don’t get caught by them or BLM, don’t get drunk until off the street.”

The indictment also says on December 27, Nordean created an online crowdfunding campaign which solicited donations for “protective gear and communications” to be used by the Proud Boys on January 6. The FBI says Rehl posted a link to a similar fundraiser with the name “Travel Expenses for Upcoming Patriot Events” that raised more than $5,500 in donations.

The Proud Boys are not the only group now indicted on conspiracy charges. In February, a federal grand jury indicted nine alleged members of the Oath Keepers militia group on multiple charges for allegedly conspiring to travel to D.C. on January 6 to disrupt the certification of Electoral College votes.