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Previous story Proud Boys leaders facing new conspiracy charges related to Jan. 6 Capitol riot Next story

STORY BY KYLE CHENEY AND JOSH GERSTEIN

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Published on March 20, 2021 2:40 AM

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Proud Boy members Joseph Biggs, left, and Ethan Nordean, right with megaphone, walk toward the U.S. Capitol in Washington, in support of President Donald Trump. on Jan. 6, 2021. | Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo
Prosecutors unveiled new conspiracy charges Friday against four leaders of the Proud Boys, the pro-Trump extremist group that participated in the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, charging them with a plot to disrupt Congress' certification of the 2020 election.

The grand jury indictment, handed up last week and unsealed Friday by a federal judge in Washington, alleges that Ethan Nordean of Seattle, Zach Rehl of Philadelphia, Charles Donahoe of North Carolina and Joseph Biggs of Florida orchestrated a strategy to overwhelm Capitol Police officers and target weakly guarded entrances to the building.

All four are considered regional leaders of the Proud Boys organization, with close ties to the group's national leader Enrique Tarrio.

The charges are arguably the most significant leveled in the 10 weeks since a mob of Donald Trump supporters — seeded with cells of organized extremist groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers — stormed the Capitol, sent lawmakers and then-Vice President Mike Pence fleeing for safety and injured more than 100 police officers.

And the Proud Boys case could expand beyond the four current defendants. One claim in the new charges is that as many as 60 people were in a secure, encrypted communications channel the group set up to coordinate its activities on the day the Capitol was stormed.

A conspiracy indictment against 10 Oath Keepers has been pending for weeks and is expected to add up to five additional defendants, although several appear to be low-level members who tagged along with organizers.

By contrast, the conspiracy indictment unveiled against the Proud Boys Friday is aimed squarely at the group's leadership.

Tarrio, who was arrested as he arrived in Washington two days before the Jan. 6 Capitol assault, is not charged in the new indictment but is facing separate charges for his alleged role in violence that broke out at a rally in support of former President Donald Trump in December. But according to prosecutors, Tarrio remained in contact with the other four Proud Boys leaders after that time as they discussed a strategy for rushing the Capitol.