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Former U.S. Soldier Extradited from Ukraine for Double Homicide of Brooksville Couple and Much More

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Brooksville news has an international twist, but for the wrong reasons. Former U.S. Army soldier Craig Austin Lang faces numerous criminal charges in three states across the union: Florida, North Carolina, and Arizona. A statement from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Public Affairs announced details of the investigation on Monday.

The 34-year-old Lang made an initial appearance before a court in Fort Myers on Monday following his extradition from Ukraine due to the charges that include armed robbery, false statements in a passport application, aggravated identity theft, misuse of a passport in violation of conditions and restriction, and double homicide, among others.

“As alleged in the indictments, Craig Austin Lang went on an international crime spree that included a double murder in Florida, attempts to travel internationally to engage in other acts of violence outside the United States, and a plot to evade law enforcement detection by trading guns, a grenade, and cash to use another person’s identifying information to apply for a U.S. passport under an assumed name,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Lang’s alleged conduct is shocking in its scope and its callous disregard for human life […]”

The pair of murders allegedly committed by Lang occurred in Estero, Florida. According to a superseding indictment returned in the Middle District of Florida in December 2019, Lang and co-defendant, Alex Jared Zwiefelhofer, allegedly murdered the Brooksville couple in 2018. The 27-year-old Zwiefelhofer, who was also a former U.S. Army soldier, met the defendant in Ukraine in 2017 before traveling to Kenya, where he claimed they intended to fight terrorists before attempting to cross into South Sudan. Once they were allegedly detained in South Sudan, they were deported to the United States and eventually rejoined each other in Florida in April 2018.

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This is where the indictment alleges that Lang and Zwiefelhofer murdered a Brooksville couple who were attempting to purchase firearms that the pair had listed for sale on a website called “ARMSLIST.” The couple were killed during the process of an armed robbery to steal the $3,000 that the couple had intended to use to buy the weapons. Lang and Zwiefelhofer were then planning to use the funds to travel to Venezuela to fight the Venezuelan regime.

The two are charged with violating the Neutrality Act, use of a firearm during or in relation to a crime of violence causing death, and a litany of other charges. Zwiefelhofer was convicted of all charges by a federal jury on March 8. The two face a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted on all counts. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI are investigating the case.

The indictment returned in the Eastern District of North Carolina in August 2019 stated that Lang and fellow co-conspirators allegedly attempted to evade law enforcement detection and covertly travel internationally in September 2018. Co-conspirators Matthew Scott McCloud and Dameon Shae Adcock, worked to carry out a plan to provide co-conspirators’ identity documents to Lang and McCloud. The 27-year-old allegedly submitted a U.S. passport application under the assumed name of Adcock after paying the co-conspirator in firearms, $1,500 in cash, and a military smoke grenade. McCloud, who applied for a U.S. passport under the name of a fourth co-conspirator, Jordan Dean Miller, as well as Lang allegedly did so to fly from Georgia to New York to Ukraine. This is being investigated by the DSS.

Adcock, Miller, and McCloud were charged in connection with the scheme. Lang also faces a litany of charges that carry a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison for all of the charges in relation to this case. Adcock pled guilty in November 2019 (sentenced September 2020, sentenced to two years and eight months in prison), McCloud pled guilty in April 2020 (sentenced in July 2020, time was served), and Miller pled guilty and was sentenced in May 2020 to one-year probation.

The indictment in the District of Arizona in June 2019 charged Lang with “misuse of a passport for allegedly presenting a U.S. passport to Mexican authorities to obtain a Mexican visa.” This is a violation of the conditions of the passport. Lang faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, or potentially more under specific “aggravating circumstances.”

This case is being investigated by the FBI, and the Bureau handled Lang’s extradition from Ukraine after the European Court of Human Rights rejected Lang’s claim that challenged his extradition under the European Convention of Human Rights. The United States thanked Ukrainian authorities for their cooperation in this matter. FBI agents and all investigators involved were doggedly determined to track down and retrieve Lang so he could stand trial for his alleged crimes.

“The alleged conduct of Craig Austin Lang, which includes homicide and armed robbery, will not be tolerated by the FBI,” said Executive Assistant Director Timothy Langan of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch. “Individuals that engage in such activity must face the consequences of their actions. We would like to thank our partner law enforcement agencies for their efforts in ensuring that criminals face justice. If you cause harm to the American public, we will relentlessly pursue you even if you are located beyond our borders.”

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