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Armed border group shuts down camp at border in New Mexico

An armed group that has been patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border left its post in the New Mexico desert Tuesday amid pressure from law enforcement following videos that showed militia members stopping migrants who had illegally crossed into the country.

Sunland Park police and security officers with a railroad company told members of the United Constitutional Patriots on Tuesday they needed to move their trailers and equipment. Union Pacific Railroad said the group crossed its land to access the site and requested that the group not trespass onto its property.

City spokesman Peter Ibaro said that police helped the railroad remove the group by 3:45 p.m. after they installed no trespassing signs. By Tuesday afternoon, all that remained at the encampment was a trailer.

An self-styled Patriot stands a quarter mile from a barrier that marks the U.S.-Mexico border Tuesday, April 23, 2019, in Sunland Park, N.M., hours before being removed from his group's campsite by police. Members of the United Constitutional Patriots gained national attention after filming themselves detaining immigrants who cross the border to the east where the wall ends. (AP PhotoCedar Attanasio)

The leader of the United Constitutional Patriots was arrested last weekend on 2017 weapons charges following widespread criticism spurred by videos of the group stopping migrants who illegally crossed the border.

A criminal complaint filed Monday alleged that Larry Hopkins said in 2017 that he was training supporters to assassinate Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and billionaire Democratic supporter George Soros. Hopkins allegedly invited an FBI agent into his home in 2017 and showed him at least nine weapons, including an AK-47 assault rifle.

The FBI declined to comment on why it waited to bring charges against Hopkins at the time.

The camp of the United Constitutional Patriots, a citizen immigration patrol, sits near the U.S-Mexico border Tuesday, April 23, 2019, in Sunland Park, N.M. Members of the camp were evicted by police hours later, after a complaint that they had been trespassing on private property for around two months. (AP PhotoCedar Attanasio)

The United Constitutional Patriots set up their encampment in the New Mexico desert a few hundred feet away from the border at a time when large groups of families have been coming to the area from Central America. Many members of the group carry guns and wear masks.

Other militias and far-right activists have been stepping up their activity at the border in recent months, especially last year as a caravan of migrants made its way to the U.S. At the time, a Texas militia said it had members at three points along the state's border with Mexico.

United Constitutional Patriots spokesman Jim Benvie said in a social media post that the group will relocate and that operations will continue.

Sunland Park Police Chief Javier Guerra speaks from his headquarters in Sunland Park, N.M., Tuesday, April 23, 2019. Guerra's department assisted with the eviction of a militia group that was patrolling the border, detaining immigrants, and posting videos of their actions on Facebook. The groups was made to leave after the police received a complaint that they were on private property. (AP PhotoCedar Attanasio)

Sunland Police Chief Javier Guerra cautioned the group that it will take action against members who point guns at immigrants. "We can arrest them for assault," he said.

A no-trespassing sign installed this week by the city of Sunland Park, N.M., is seen Tuesday, April 23, 2019. The city put up the sign to discourage citizen immigration patrols by members of the United Constitutional Patriots. The group gained national attention after filming themselves detaining immigrants who cross the border to the east where the wall ends. (AP PhotoCedar Attanasio)

"Viper," a member of the United Constitutional Patriots stands dejected after Union Pacific Police evicted the group from their camp in Anapra, N.M., Tuesday, April, 23, 2019. The group was camping on Union Pacific land. (Mark LambieThe El Paso Times via AP)

Members of the United Constitutional Patriots plan their next move after being evicted from Union Pacific land where they were camped for months watching for asylum seekers crossing the border Tuesday, April 23, 2019, in Anapra, N.M. (Mark LambieThe El Paso Times via AP)

"Viper," a member of the United Constitutional Patriots stands dejected after Union Pacific Police evicted the group from their camp in Anapra, N.M., Tuesday, April, 23, 2019. The group was camping on Union Pacific land. (Mark LambieThe El Paso Times via AP)

"Viper," a member of the United Constitutional Patriots stands dejected after Union Pacific Police evicted the group from their camp in Anapra, N.M., Tuesday, April, 23, 2019. The group was camping on Union Pacific land. Group spokesman Jim Benvie said in a social media post that the group will relocate and that operations will continue. (Mark LambieThe El Paso Times via AP)

A Union Pacific Police unit sits guard as members of the United Constitutional Patriots group vacates their camp near the border in Anapra, N.M., Tuesday, April, 23, 2019. Sunland Park police and security officers with the railroad company told members of the United Constitutional Patriots on Tuesday they needed to move their trailers and equipment. (Mark LambieThe El Paso Times via AP)

"Viper," a member of the United Constitutional Patriots drives from where the group was camping after being asked to leave Union Pacific property in Anapra, N.M., Tuesday, April 23, 2019. The armed group that has been patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border has left their campsite in southern New Mexico after authorities said they were on private property. (Mark LambieThe El Paso Times via AP)