Two years ago today, a mob of angry Donald Trump supporters charged through police barricades and entered the U.S. Capitol. Now, many of those involved in the attack are doing their time in federal prison, or preparing to begin their sentences.
More than two dozen people from the Dallas area were arrested in the massive case, the largest single criminal investigation in U.S. history. Nationwide, authorities arrested more than 870 defendants, in nearly every state. Of those, more than 265 people were charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.
Kevin Krause, who covers federal court for the Dallas Morning News, said Texas had the second most defendants – behind Florida – in the aftermath of the riot, followed by Pennsylvania, New York, California and Ohio.
“It’s not unusual for a state the size of Texas, but it’s notable that we do have a number of defendants who played larger roles, such as organizing militia members to attend the Jan. 6 event,” he said. “And we do have a high number of individuals who are accused of assaulting Capitol police officers who were defending the Capitol on that day. So we definitely stand out.”
Krause said the Dallas FBI office, which covers a big stretch of North and East Texas, made more arrests related to Jan. 6 than any other FBI field office in the country. This included several high-profile people involved.
“Guy Reffitt actually got some national headlines,” Krause said. “He was the first to go to trial in the country, and he was convicted by a jury. He’s the Wylie man, a former oil rig worker, who apparently was a Three Percenter, which is like a sort of militia-type group. And he threatened his children not to rat him out, apparently.”
Another big case from the Dallas area, Krause said, was Stewart Rhodes, who was also convicted more recently during a jury trial. He is the founder of the Oath Keepers militia group and was convicted of seditious conspiracy, which is the most serious charge so far.
“Of the about 27 individuals from North Texas, almost two thirds have been convicted, either through a guilty plea or through being convicted at trial,” Krause said. “One of the more recent guilty pleas was Garret Miller, who was the Richardson man accused of storming the Capitol and making death threats against members of Congress and the Capitol Police. He was scheduled to go to trial, and on the eve of his trial, he entered a guilty plea. And so he will be sentenced in February.”
Krause said it’s generally believed that most of the serious cases have already been indicted, and most of what is to come in the Jan. 6 investigation is more trials and charges. However, he said there could be more arrests for minor charges, like misdemeanors for trespassing, still on the horizon.
With so many defendants in North Texas, Krause said, this process has pointed to a more widespread problem with extremism in the region.
“I think the takeaway is that, you know, political violence, threats and extremism do appear to be a significant issue for the feds in North Texas,” he said.