The former director of the Miami Young Republicans, who was allegedly captured on surveillance video breaching the Crypt of the U.S. Capitol, was arrested last week on charges in connection to the Jan. 6 riot, according to newly unsealed court documents Monday.
Barbara Balmaseda, 23, of Miami Lakes, Florida, is charged in a criminal complaint filed in the District of Columbia with a felony offense of obstruction of an official proceeding and misdemeanor offenses of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building or grounds, and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building, the Justice Department announced.
According to the Miami New Times, Balmaseda, a Florida International University (FIU) student and South Florida GOP strategist, previously interned for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., between 2018 and 2019 and worked as an organizer for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ 2018 gubernatorial campaign.
She was arrested on Thursday in Miami Lakes and made her initial appearance in the Southern District of Florida. Balmaseda’s attorney, Aubrey Webb, deemed the 23-year-old’s arrest by a task force of “FBI, Marshals, ATF and Metro-Dade Police” as a “waste of law enforcement resources” for what amounts to “essentially trespassing charges,” according to Politico.
“Maybe if the FBI spent less time and resources focusing on J6 trespassers with no criminal history, they might be able to make an arrest of the suspect who left pipe bombs at the DNC and RNC offices on Capitol Hill on January 5, 2021, who currently remains at large,” Webb said in a statement. “We hope, of course, they will rein in the DOJ’s politically-motivated prosecution of January 6 demonstrators.” The attorney further stated that Balmaseda is “relieved this process will finally move toward a final resolution,” stressing that she is not charged with violence or destruction of property.
Last week, the Supreme Court notably agreed to hear a case involving three Jan. 6 defendants disputing an obstruction charge that could have implications for one of former President Trump’s criminal cases. Over 300 people have been charged by the Justice Department with obstructing an official proceeding in connection with the Jan. 6 riot.
The new complaint takes issue with how Balmaseda and former Proud Boys member Gabriel Garcia, who once sat on the Miami-Dade Republican Party Executive Committee, exchanged hundreds of texts and images from August 2020 through January 2021 and snapped a selfie together leaving the steps of the Capitol on January 6. Garcia was found guilty in November on felony charges of obstruction of an official proceeding and interference with law enforcement during a civil disorder in connection to the riot. His sentencing is scheduled for Mar. 28, 2024.
Meanwhile, court documents allege Balmaseda traveled from Florida to Washington, D.C., to protest the result of the 2020 presidential election. Prior to her arrival in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 5, 2021, Balmaseda exchanged messages with several associates in which she participated in communications reflecting her belief that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen and her knowledge about the certification process scheduled to take place on Jan. 6, 2021, prosecutors say.
On January 6, court documents say Balmaseda was photographed in Black Lives Matter Plaza – the two-block area in front of the White House renamed by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser during the 2020 George Floyd protests and riots. Shortly after, at about 2:00 p.m., Balmaseda approached the Capitol building with another individual and was in position to see the crowd of rioters climbing the scaffolding on the west side of the Capitol and plumes of smoke that billowed into the air, federal prosecutors alleged.
By this time, rioters had overwhelmed officers on the west front, bypassed the officer lines, and gained access to the northwest stairs of the Capitol. Around 2:09 p.m., rioters pushed past officers on the middle landing of the stairs and surged toward the Capitol building.
Eventually, U.S. Capitol Police closed-circuit television (CCTV) captured Balmaseda entering the Capitol building via the Senate Wing door at approximately 2:16 p.m., just four minutes after rioters initially breached the building. According to the allegations, when Balmaseda entered the building, broken glass was scattered on the ground, and an alarm blared near the doorway.
After entering the Capitol, Balmaseda made her way toward the Crypt and pushed her way to the front of a crowd of rioters who were confronting a police line, federal prosecutors say. The mob eventually overran the police line and proceeded into the Crypt.
Balmaseda moved forward, joined a crowd of rioters, and headed towards an area known as the “OAP Corridor,” where another line of officers initially blocked a hallway. The complaint says officers eventually backed away, and the rioters, including Balmaseda, continued to move forward.
The Justice Department says Balmaseda then made her way back to the Crypt and eventually entered the Rotunda, where she took photographs and exited the area at approximately 2:53 p.m., Balmaseda returned to the Rotunda and stood nearby as a group of rioters attempted to push through an officer line. At approximately 3:11 p.m., law enforcement officers received additional support in the Rotunda and were able to corral rioters, Balmaseda included, towards the nearest exit, the Rotunda doors.
In the 35 months since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 1,230 individuals have been charged in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including more than 440 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement, a felony, the DOJ notes.
The investigation remains ongoing.
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