CHICAGO – Two California men were indicted on federal charges related to an August 2013 incident where about 2,000 minks were released from a Morris farm.
In addition to the release of the animals from their cages, property belonging to the mink farm located at 1875 W. Nelson Road in Morris was damaged on Aug. 14, 2013. The defendants also allegedly conspired to damage and interfere with the operations of a fox farm in Roanoke around the same time, according to a news release from the U.S. States Attorney’s Office’s of the Northern District of Illinois.
The Grundy County Sheriff’s Department was investigating the Morris incident at the time, but the FBI later took over, according to a previous Morris Daily Herald article.
Tyler Lang was arrested Friday by FBI agents in El Segundo, California. He was scheduled to appear in federal court in Los Angeles before facing further court proceedings in Chicago. A second defendant, Kevin Johnson, is in state custody in Woodford County, and both defendants are scheduled to be arraigned July 29 in Chicago.
Johnson, 27, also known as “Kevin Olliff,” and Lang, 25, whose last known residences were in Los Angeles, were both charged with one count each of conspiracy and interstate travel to damage and interfere with the operations of an animal enterprise. The two-count indictment was returned Tuesday by a federal grand jury in Chicago.
According to the indictment, the Morris mink farm and the Roanoke fox farm were in the business of breeding, raising and selling the animals to fur manufacturers.
Between Aug. 5 and Aug. 15, 2013, Johnson and Lang allegedly conspired to travel throughout the United States for the purpose of damaging and interfering with the operations of animal enterprises. The indictment alleges the offenses resulted in economic damage exceeding $10,000.
In addition to the release of the minks from their cages, portions of the fence surrounding the Morris farm were removed allowing the minks to escape from the property. A barn was painted with the words “Liberation is Love,” and a caustic substance was poured or sprayed on two farm vehicles, damaging the paint.
Each count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and restitution is mandatory, according to the release.