Minnesotan who is a leader in armed vigilante group charged with impersonating border agent

The 44-year-old is facing up to three years in prison.
Publish date:

A self-styled commander of an armed vigilante group that patrols the southern border with Mexico has been indicted for impersonating a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent.

James Benvie, 44, of Albany, Minnesota, was initially arrested on federal weapons charges, but has since been arrested by the FBI and charged with impersonating a border agent.

Benvie has described himself as a "commander" of the Guardian Patriots, an armed militia group that was previously known as the United Constitutional Patriots, per ABC 7.

He has been indicted by a grand jury for impersonating a border officer on two occasions in Doña Ana County, New Mexico on Apr. 15 and 17, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in western Oklahoma.

He made an initial court appearance in Oklahoma on Friday, and is expected to be transferred to New Mexico for prosecution.

The details of his alleged crimes have not yet been unsealed, though the Albuquerque Journal notes the vigilante group camped out for "months" near the border fence in southern New Mexico, and claimed to be helping the Border Patrol deal with the migrant families crossing the border to seek asylum.

He told the newspaper that the group was made up of "volunteer patriots" who would detain people crossing the border, whether illegally or seeking asylum.

"If they do not surrender to our verbal commands; we do not force them to stay with us," he said.

Benvie could face up to three years in prison for the federal charges.

Next Up

plow, snow

NWS: Accumulating snow likely this weekend in Minnesota

Fluffy snow will pile up in some locations on Saturday.

Jaden McDaniels

Wolves lose to Magic on Cole Anthony's buzzer-beater

The Wolves blew a 20-point lead as the Magic defeated the Timberwolves on Wednesday night.

J.A. Happ

Twins sign veteran J.A. Happ to add to the rotation

The left-hander will get a one-year, $8 million deal from the Twins.

storm the capitol rally st. paul minnesota state capitol

BCA finds 'no criminal wrongdoing' among those at 'Storm the Capitol' rally

Inflammatory comments were made by speakers, but no charges will be brought.

Screen Shot 2021-01-18 at 12.27.04 PM

Man's vehicles crushed by hit-and-run driver weren't fully insured

The goal is to raise $25,000 to help the south Minneapolis resident.

Joe Biden

Key points from Joe Biden's first speech as POTUS

The 46th president called for unity at a time America is facing huge challenges.

coronavirus, covid-19

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Wednesday, January 20

The 111 ICU patients is the fewest in Minnesota since there were 109 COVID patients in intensive care on Oct. 1.


Here's what Amy Klobuchar said at Joe Biden's inauguration

The Minnesota senator was one of the leader organizers of the inauguration.

covid-19, vaccine

All of this week's COVID vaccine pilot program appointments are filled

Nearly 6,000 Minnesotans who are 65 and older registered for appointments between noon Tuesday and Wednesday morning.


Daniel Fragodt

Albany teacher and coach charged for alleged sex assault on student

The 31-year-old teacher also coached multiple sports at Albany Schools.

Charges: Pastor stole booze from liquor store, keyed customer's car

The 38 year old is facing theft and damage to property charges.

Charges: Mayor of Dayton embezzled $13,000 from city festival

The 54 year old is facing a charge of theft by swindle.

Derek Sweere

Charges: MN man stabbed roommate in the eyes, shot him 16 times

He faces up to 55 years in prison if convicted.

money, cash, $100

Charges: Defense lawyer swindled client out of $15,000

She claimed he faced 15-20 years in prison.

Jacob McPheeters

Charges: Man shot girlfriend on his birthday, fled to Wisconsin

The 28-year-old is now facing attempted murder charges.

Charges: Man stabbed woman with fish knife, stole firefighter's car

The 50 year old from Mayer is facing attempted murder charges.