SUNLAND PARK, New Mexico - The spokesman for an armed vigilante militia group that has detained migrants near the U.S.-Mexico border in New Mexico was arrested on a federal criminal complaint for allegedly impersonating a U.S. Border Patrol agent, authorities said Saturday.
Jim Benvie, named in a federal indictment as James Christopher Benvie, 44, of Albany, Minnesota, serves as the spokesman for the Guardian Patriots. It's a splinter group of the United Constitutional Patriots, for whom Benvie also served as a spokesman.
Benvie is facing two counts of impersonating an officer or employee of the United States. The incidents happened on April 15 and 17 in Doña Ana County, New Mexico, according to the U.S. Department of Justice,
Although authorities did not offer details, the Albuquerque Journal reported that the indictment returned by a New Mexico federal grand jury this past week specified Benvie had impersonated a Border Patrol agent on those two occasions.
Benvie was arrested in Guthrie, Oklahoma by the FBI and local authorities after the indictment was handed up. He made an initial appearance Friday in U.S. District Court for Western Oklahoma.
The DOJ said Benvie will be brought to New Mexico to be prosecuted. He is scheduled for a detention hearing in U.S. District Court for New Mexico on Tuesday.
If convicted, Benvie could face up to three years in a federal prison.
Benvie is also facing a separate, unrelated fraud charge in Oklahoma for allegedly running a child-cancer charity scam. State authorities there accuse Benvie of pocketing money that he collected on behalf of an 11-year-old boy suffering from cancer.
ABC-7 has interviewed Benvie on several occasions, including during his time as the spokesman for the United Constitutional Patriots.
That group, made up of veterans, camped out in Anapra, New Mexico back in March detaining migrants as they crossed into the U.S. from Mexico. Benvie even posted videos of the armed militia group detaining migrants.
In April, the United Constitutional Patriots were asked to leave their camp site by Sunland Park Police.
Benvie is the second person with ties to the United Constitutional Patriots to face legal troubles with the federal government.
Larry Mitchell Hopkins, the former leader of that group, is currently jailed as he awaits trial on a charge of being a felon in possession of firearms.