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.
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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.

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