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Alleged New Mexico militia commander pleads not guilty to weapons charges

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April 22 (UPI) — A member of an anti-migrant militia in New Mexico pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that he possessed a firearm as a felon.

Larry Mitchell Hopkins, 69, entered the not guilty plea during his first court appearance on Monday, his attorney Kelly O’Connell told CNN.

O’Connell added that the guns and ammunition in question did not belong to Hopkins.

“According to the charges that I read, this is not dealing with what is happening down here,” O’Connell said in reference to the militia allegedly detaining migrants at the border.

Hopkins was arrested on Saturday and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said Hopkins is also a member of the United Constitutional Patriots, an armed group that had been detaining migrants near Sunland Park, N.M.

The group had recently shared a video to Facebook appearing to have detained migrants and had arrested more than 300 people, including children, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico.

In an affidavit, an FBI agent said the agency’s public access line received reports of “alleged militia extremist activity” based out of Hopkins home, including about 20 members who were “armed with AK-47 rifles and other firearms.”

Hopkins was identified as the commander of the group and his home served as its base.

In November 2017, two FBI special agents investigated Hopkins home where he invited them into a room he called his “office.” In the room, the agents observed about “10 firearms leaning against a wall in a closet in plain view.”

Hopkins also told the agents that there were other weapons in the home, including a shotgun and two other handguns.

He had previously been convicted of possession of a loaded firearm in 1996 as well as felony possession of a weapon and criminal impersonation of a peace officer in 2006.

An FBI agent testified that Hopkins and other members of the group known as the United Constitutional Patriots were training to kill prominent Democrats including former President Barack Obama for their alleged support of the self-declared anti-fascist group antifa.

“Hopkins also allegedly made the statement that the United Constitutional Patriots were training to assassinate George Soros, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, because of these individuals’ support of antifa,” the complaint said.

It wasn’t clear when Hopkins made these statements, but O’Connell said he denied the allegations.

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