ALBUQUERQUE — The F.B.I. on Saturday arrested the leader of a right-wing militia that was detaining migrant families at gunpoint near the border in southern New Mexico, as the group faced a torrent of criticism for its tactics.
Hector Balderas, New Mexico’s attorney general, said federal agents had arrested the leader, Larry Mitchell Hopkins, who had been operating under the alias Johnny Horton Jr. Mr. Balderas said in a statement that Mr. Hopkins was arrested on charges of firearms possession by a felon. “This is a dangerous felon who should not have weapons around children and families,” Mr. Balderas said. “Today’s arrest by the F.B.I. indicates clearly that the rule of law should be in the hands of trained law enforcement officials, not armed vigilantes.”
The firearms charge against Mr. Hopkins is relatively minor. But it is likely the start of a deeper investigation into his activities and those of the militia, and opens the way for the authorities to bring more serious charges like kidnapping and impersonating a police officer or an employee of the United States.
Speaking to someone using a voice distorter while wearing a gas mask, Mr. Hopkins appeared on a right-wing extremist YouTube channel in November. He claimed to be in touch with President Trump after a chance meeting at a Las Vegas casino.