2nd activist pleads guilty in release of 2,000 minks

SHARE 2nd activist pleads guilty in release of 2,000 minks

A California man admitted to a federal judge Wednesday he helped release 2,000 minks and vandalize an Illinois fur farm two years ago.

Tyler Lang, 26, pleaded guilty in front of U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve and now faces as many as five years in prison at his sentencing, which is set for Nov. 9. His accomplice, Kevin Johnson, who also has used the name Kevin Oliff, pleaded guilty in June and is set to be sentenced Nov. 5.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan Cunniff Church told the judge that the Morris fur farm was vandalized Aug. 13, 2013. Someone spray-painted “Liberation is Love” on the side of a barn, poured caustic substances on two farm vehicles and removed portions of the farm’s fence so the minks could escape, court records show.

Of the 2,000 minks that escaped, Church said 600 died or were never recovered while the rest lost their resale value because their breeding cards were removed and destroyed. The prosecutor said the incident cost the farm between $120,000 and $200,000.

“A lot of them got hit by cars, and a lot we found in a cornfield dead,” said neighbor Darren Caley. ”They were hand-reared and didn’t know how to hunt, so many of them starved to death.”

A Woodford County police officer pulled Lang and Tyler over on Aug. 15, 2013, records show. Inside their vehicle, officers found bottles of muriatic acid, a bottle of aircraft paint remover, spray paint, bolt cutters, a scanner, two Motorola walkie-talkies, computers, two phones, a digital camera, books on terrorism and avoiding law enforcement, maps, rubber gloves and ski masks, records show.

Lang and Johnson are suspected of traveling across the U.S. to free caged animals, including those on mink farms and a fox farm in Roanoke, Ill. Lang, a construction worker, became an animal activist when he turned vegan at the age of 14, according to the website supportkevinandtyler.com.

Contributing: Stefano Esposito

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