23-year-old Miami GOP activist accused of joining Proud Boys in January 6 riots

By | December 19, 2023

Image of Barbara Balmaseda, 23, of Miami Lakes, Florida (right). included in a Justice Department court document containing evidence of her arrest on felony and misdemeanor charges related to her role in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

A 23-year-old Florida woman was arrested last week on charges related to her alleged involvement in the January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot.

Barbara Balmaseda of Miami Lakes was arrested Thursday, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. She has been charged with obstructing an official proceeding and four misdemeanors, according to the release and her attorney.

Court details included in the release show. Balmaseda was an acquaintance of Gabriel Garcia, a member of the Proud Boys, who was found guilty of two felonies for his involvement in the riots. The two had previous contact and were seen together on Capitol security footage.

An attorney from the firm representing Balmaseda responded to the allegations on her behalf in a statement emailed to USA TODAY.

“We believe that it was unnecessary for the federal task force, consisting of the FBI, Marshals, ATF and Metro-Dade Police, to arrest her on essentially trespassing charges. When the FBI contacted her more than a year ago, they were told she would voluntarily surrender if they ever wanted to arrest her. We are also disappointed that it took almost three years for DOJ to decide to charge her,” Nayib Hassan said in the email. “She is relieved that this process will finally move toward a final resolution. Her arrest was a waste of law enforcement resources.”

The statement also said she has been participating in the federal “Quiet Skies” program for a year, which subjects her to additional screening at airports.

Balmaseda made her initial appearance in the Southern District of Florida, and bail was set at $100,000. She has been released on bail, according to the Miami Herald. The case has been transferred to the District of Columbia.

Image shows Gabriel Garcia of Miami, Florida, left, man in Ruger shirt, center, and Barbara Balmaseda, 23, of Miami Lakes, Florida, right.  The image was included in a Justice Department court document showing evidence of her arrest on felony and misdemeanor charges related to her role in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.Image shows Gabriel Garcia of Miami, Florida, left, man in Ruger shirt, center, and Barbara Balmaseda, 23, of Miami Lakes, Florida, right.  The image was included in a Justice Department court document showing evidence of her arrest on felony and misdemeanor charges related to her role in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Image shows Gabriel Garcia of Miami, Florida, left, man in Ruger shirt, center, and Barbara Balmaseda, 23, of Miami Lakes, Florida, right. The image was included in a Justice Department court document showing evidence of her arrest on felony and misdemeanor charges related to her role in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

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Balmaseda stepped into the Capitol amid broken glass and alarm bells

According to the evidence in the statement of facts, Balmaseda and Garcia flew together to Washington, D.C., on January 5, 2021, with a scheduled return on January 7, 2021.

Before traveling, she had sent several messages to others stating she believed the election had been stolen and indicating she knew the certification process was scheduled for Jan. 6, 2021, the release said.

Allegations indicate that Balmaseda climbed equipment set up in preparation for the upcoming inauguration and then climbed the stairs to reach the Capitol terrace, the statement said.

Image of Barbara Balmaseda, 23, of Miami Lakes, Florida, included in a Justice Department court document showing evidence of her arrest on felony and misdemeanor charges related to her role in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on 6 January 2021. Balmaseda can be seen wearing a black coat with a sheepskin lining, as in other photos included in the allegations.Image of Barbara Balmaseda, 23, of Miami Lakes, Florida, included in a Justice Department court document showing evidence of her arrest on felony and misdemeanor charges related to her role in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on 6 January 2021. Balmaseda can be seen wearing a black coat with a sheepskin lining, as in other photos included in the allegations.

Security footage shows Balmaseda entering the building about four minutes after the rioters first invaded. “According to the allegations, when Balmaseda entered the building, there was broken glass strewn on the floor and an alarm sounded at the doorway,” the statement said.

She went to the crypt, through the “OAP Corridor” and to the Rotunda, where she joined the crowd that encountered officers more than once, the release said.

Image of Barbara Balmaseda, 23, of Miami Lakes, Florida, included in a Justice Department court document showing evidence of her arrest on felony and misdemeanor charges related to her role in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on 6 January 2021. Balmaseda can be seen wearing a black coat with a sheepskin lining, as in other photos included in the allegations.Image of Barbara Balmaseda, 23, of Miami Lakes, Florida, included in a Justice Department court document showing evidence of her arrest on felony and misdemeanor charges related to her role in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on 6 January 2021. Balmaseda can be seen wearing a black coat with a sheepskin lining, as in other photos included in the allegations.

The case remains under investigation by FBI field offices in Miami and Washington. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Counterterrorism Division of the Justice Department’s National Security Division are prosecuting her case.

Who is Barbara Balmaseda?

Balmaseda was once the executive director of the Miami Young Republicans, according to a Facebook post from the organization.

“This individual is not a current member of our organization,” Miami Young Republicans said of Balmaseda in an emailed statement to USA TODAY. “Our organization is focused on supporting young professionals in our community.”

According to the Miami New Times, she served as an intern for U.S. Senator Marco Rubio from 2018 to 2019.

She joins more than 1,230 people in nearly all 50 states who have been charged in connection with the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, according to the press release. Officials continue to investigate the incident.

Image of Barbara Balmaseda, 23, of Miami Lakes, Florida (left) included in a Justice Department court document showing evidence of her arrest on felony and misdemeanor charges related to her role in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 .Image of Barbara Balmaseda, 23, of Miami Lakes, Florida (left) included in a Justice Department court document showing evidence of her arrest on felony and misdemeanor charges related to her role in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 .

Image of Barbara Balmaseda, 23, of Miami Lakes, Florida (left) included in a Justice Department court document showing evidence of her arrest on felony and misdemeanor charges related to her role in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 .

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Florida GOP activist accused of breaking into Capitol with Proud Boys

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