A pair of Los Angeles animal rights activists face federal charges for allegedly releasing 2,000 minks from their cages at a Chicago-area fur farm, according to an indictment unsealed today.
Tyler Lang, 25, and Kevin Johnson, 27, were charged with one count each of conspiracy and interstate travel to damage and interfere with the operations of an animal enterprise, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The two-count indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in Chicago on Tuesday and unsealed following Lang's arrest today in El Segundo, officials said.
Johnson -- also known as "Kevin Oliff" -- is in state custody in Illinois on separate charges, authorities said.
Prosecutors said the men are suspected of releasing the critters from a fur farm in Morris, Ill., and writing the words "Liberation is Love" on a barn there last Aug. 14. The defendants also allegedly conspired to damage and interfere with the operations of a fox farm in Roanoke, Ill., northeast of Peoria, about the same time, officials said.
Both men are expected to be arraigned July 29 in a Chicago federal court.
According to the indictment, the farms were in the business of breeding, raising and selling the animals to fur manufacturers.
Between Aug. 5 and Aug. 15, 2013, Johnson and Lang traveled to Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin for the purpose of damaging and interfering with the operations of animal enterprises, including the mink and fox farms, federal prosecutors allege.
On Aug. 14 last year, they allegedly damaged real and personal property - - including animals and records -- and interfered with the operations of the mink farm, causing more than $10,000 in damages, the indictment states.
In addition to the release of 2,000 minks from their cages, portions of the fence surrounding the farm were removed, allowing the animals to escape from the property, officials said.
A caustic substance was also poured or sprayed on two farm vehicles, damaging the paint, according to the indictment.
Each charged count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and restitution is mandatory, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
According to various websites, including one called supportkevinandtyler.com, the men are longtime animal rights activists.
--City News Service