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PayPal and GoFundMe banned a militia group that detained migrants at the US border

PayPal and GoFundMe banned a militia group that detained migrants at the US border


The group relied on outside donations to operate

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that a right-wing militia group, the United Constitutional Patriots, operating in New Mexico was detaining migrants at gunpoint before turning them over to US officials. Now, PayPal and GoFundMe have banned the group from their services, according to Buzzfeed News.

The number of paramilitary groups has grown in the US over the last couple of years, and in that time, their members have been making trips to the US southern border, saying that they’re there to support US Border Patrol agents. Following the recent reports, New Mexico State Attorney General released a statement on Thursday, saying that “these individuals should not attempt to exercise authority reserved for law enforcement,” while the Border Patrol issued a statement, saying that it does not “endorse or condone private groups or organizations taking enforcement matters into their own hands.” On Saturday, the officials confirmed that the FBI had arrested a member of the group, Larry Mitchell Hopkins.

Now, tech companies are starting to act, as PayPal and GoFundMe, both of which allowed people to financially support the group’s operations, cut them off. PayPal and GoFundMe confirmed to The Verge that it has permanently suspended the group’s account, and the group posted a message on its Facebook page, asking donors to mail checks or money orders directly to them. In an interview with Buzzfeed News, United Constitutional Patriots commander Mark Cheney said that “they killed us,” and they would “have to find some other way for people to donate.” Cheney said that being cut off from those sources was a significant loss — operating in a remote location is expensive, and the group used the funds that it obtained through the funding platforms to purchase food, gas, and other supplies.

In a statement to Buzzfeed News, a PayPal spokesperson said that the group violated their Acceptable Use Policy, which prohibits “hate, violence, racial or other forms of intolerance that is discriminatory or the financial exploitation of a crime.”

Update April 21st, 2019, 9:09AM ET: Updated with confirmation from GoFundMe.