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California men accused of releasing 2,000 minks from Illinois farm

Feds: California men allegedly released 2,000 minks from Illinois farm, painted 'Liberation is Love' on barn
FBI arrests El Segundo man for suspected role in plot to damage animal farms across Midwest
California men face federal charges for allegedly damaging Illinois farm, releasing 2,000 minks into the wild

An El Segundo man was arrested Thursday on suspicion of damaging an Illinois mink farm and releasing 2,000 animals into the wild in what federal prosecutors claim was a plot to drive across the Midwest and commit similar acts.

FBI agents arrested Tyler Lang, 25, one of two suspects named in an indictment returned Tuesday by a federal grand jury in Chicago, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office there. The second suspect -- Kevin Johnson, 27 -- also was described as a Los Angeles resident, but was arrested in Illinois in August.

A federal grand jury indicted the men on two counts -- conspiracy and interstate travel to damage and interfere with the operations of an animal enterprise. If convicted, prosecutors said, they face a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count.

The indictment, which was unsealed after Lang's arrest, accused the pair of driving through Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois in August 2013, with plans to damage animal farms. Prosecutors said that on Aug. 14, they stopped at a mink farm in Morris, Ill., that "was in the business of breeding, raising and selling mink to fur manufacturers."

There, prosecutors allege, the men released 2,000 minks from their cages and took down part of the fence surrounding the farm so the animals could escape. Officials also accused the pair of damaging the paint of two farm vehicles and painting "Liberation is Love" on a barn.

Prosecutors said the pair also had plans to hit a nearby fox farm located about an hour's drive away.

Lang was scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday afternoon, officials said. Both suspects were scheduled to be arraigned in Chicago later this month.

Follow @katemather for more crime news from across California.

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