Former US Soldier Turned Ukrainian Volunteer Extradited Stateside for 2018 Double Homicide

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that Craig Austin Lang, 34, made his initial court appearance today in Fort Myers, Florida, following his extradition from Ukraine to face an array of charges related to double homicide, armed robbery, false statements in a passport application, aggravated identity theft, and misuse of a passport in violation of conditions and restrictions, among other charges.

“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.

Background

Lang served in the US Army from 2008 to 2014, with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, but was discharged after going AWOL.

In 2015, he traveled to Ukraine and joined the ultra-nationalist Right Sector Ukrainian Volunteer Corps and later the Georgian Legion to fight against Russian-backed separatist forces.

According to a 2019 superseding indictment, Lang and co-defendant Alex Jared Zwiefelhofer, 27, met in Ukraine in 2017, where Zwiefelhofer was also a former soldier turned volunteer.

The two then traveled to Kenya, where “Zwiefelhofer claimed they intended to fight against terrorists [al-Shabaab],” before attempting to enter South Sudan, where they were detained and deported back to the United States.

The Murder Case

The two met up again in April 2018 and soon after were accused of carrying out the double murder of a couple from Brooksville, Florida. According to the DOJ, the couple inquired about purchasing firearms that Lang and Zwiefelhofer had listed on a website called “ARMSLIST,” but were allegedly killed and robbed of $3,000 by the two during an armed robbery. An indictment alleges that “Lang and Zwiefelhofer allegedly robbed the victims to pay for travel to Venezuela, where the defendants planned to fight the Venezuelan regime.”

Lang and Zwiefelhofer were charged with:

  • Homicide
  • Violating the Neutrality Act
  • Conspiracy to kill, kidnap, or maim persons in a foreign country
  • Conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery
  • Conspiracy to discharge a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence
  • Interference with commerce by robbery
  • Use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence causing death.

Zwiefelhofer was apprehended in 2019 and convicted of all charges in March 2024. He faces life in prison.

Other Charges

An indictment by the Eastern District of North Carolina alleges that in September 2018, “Lang and his co-conspirators allegedly took various actions in September 2018 to evade law enforcement detection and minimize scrutiny when traveling internationally.” This included Lang allegedly applying for a US passport under an assumed name that belonged to co-conspirator Dameon Shae Adcock. Lang allegedly “gave Adcock a suitcase containing multiple firearms, a military smoke grenade, and approximately $1,500 in cash as payment for use of Adcock’s personal information.”

From there, Lang and co-conspirator Matthew Scott McCloud, who had applied for a US passport with an assumed name that belonged to a fourth co-conspirator, allegedly “acquired airline tickets to travel from Georgia to New York and then on to Ukraine.”

Lang was charged with:

  • Conspiracy to commit passport fraud and aggravated identity theft
  • Passport fraud
  • Aggravated identity theft, fraud, and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents
  • Aiding and abetting
  • False representation of a social security account number.

According to Homeland Security, Lang and McCloud didn’t stay in Ukraine long, having booked a flight to Mexico a week later, where another indictment alleges that Lang misused the fake passport to obtain a Mexican visa. The two then traveled to Bogota, Colombia, with the idea of sneaking into Venezuela to join anti-government forces. By November, Lang was back in Ukraine and his co-conspirators were apprehended.

Adcock pleaded guilty in November 2019 and was sentenced in September 2020 to two years and eight months in prison. McCloud pleaded guilty in April 2020 and was sentenced in July 2020 to time served. The fourth co-conspirator pleaded guilty and was sentenced in May 2020 to one year of probation.

Extradition

Lang remained in Ukraine but was arrested in August 2019 after crossing over the border from Moldova. According to the Ukrainian Independent Information Agency, Lang “left Ukraine to receive a new stamp in his passport,” adding that “a new stamp would allow him to extend his stay in Kyiv and obtain legal documents so the couple could marry.”

From this point, Lang was locked in a legal battle to avoid extradition and his case was appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. While his trial slowed amidst the Russian invasion, Lang rejoined to fight during a brief stint until August 2022. From then on, his attempts to avoid extradition began to fail as Ukrainian authorities prepared to turn him over to US authorities.

Atlas
Atlashttp://theatlasnews.co
Unbiased & Unfiltered News Reporting for 12+ years. Covering Geo-Political conflicts, wartime events, and vital Breaking News from around the world. Editor-In-Chief of Atlas News.

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