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Ex-US soldier accused of Florida double murder, ‘international crime spree’: feds

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An ex-U.S. soldier went on an “international crime spree” – including an alleged double murder in Florida – to stockpile weapons and wage wars as a mercenary in foreign countries, federal prosecutors allege.

On Monday, Craig Austin Lang, 34, appeared in U.S. federal court in Florida after he was extradited from Ukraine, where he volunteered to fight against Russian separatists, to face federal indictments in Florida, North Carolina and his home state of Arizona.

Lang, along with another former U.S. solider, Alex Zwiefelhofer, listed guns for sale in Florida in 2018, but allegedly killed the would-be buyers and stole $3,000 as part of a plot to fight against the Venezuelan government, federal court documents say. 

“Lang’s alleged conduct is shocking in its scope and its callous disregard for human life,” Nicole Argentieri, principal deputy assistant attorney general of the Department of Justice’s criminal division, said in a statement Monday.

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A warrant for his arrest was issued in August 2019 after the alleged double homicide of a married Florida couple, Serafin Lorenzo Jr. and Deana K. Lorenzo, the News-Press reported. He fought extradition for years, according to the Department of Justice.

Lang traded guns, a grenade and cash for a bogus ID in other states to flee the country under an assumed name, Argentieri said in a DOJ press release. 

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While fighting Russian separatists in Ukraine, Lang and Zwiefelhofer allegedly planned to use the stolen cash to fund their mercenary trip to Venezuela. 

They also prepared to fight the Islamist militant group al-Shabab in East Africa, according to the Washington Post, before their arrest. 

“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,” Argentieri said. 

Craig Austin Lang, an ex-US soldier, faces three federal indictments in three states going back to 2019 after fighting extradition from Ukraine for years, the Department of Justice said.

The ex-soldier was reportedly dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 2014 before joining the far-right Ukrainian nationalist military group called Right Sector two years later, according to the Washington Post. 

Neither the U.S. Army nor the Department of State could immediately be reached for comment. 

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Lang’s co-defendant, Zwiefelhofer, was convicted by a federal jury in March of conspiracy to commit robbery affecting commerce and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, robbery interfering with commerce, discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, which resulted in death, conspiring to kill persons in a foreign country and a violation of the Neutrality Act.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 6. 

Florida homicide victim Deana Lorenzo

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, and aiding and abetting these offenses, as well as false representation of a Social Security account number.

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He pleaded not guilty to all charges during Monday’s court appearance. His court-appointed lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.

Lang could face life in prison for the alleged Florida murders, and up to 25 years in federal prison for the fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents charges.

“His (Lang’s) wrongdoing, however, was no match for the efforts of dedicated law enforcement personnel and prosecutors in the United States and abroad to investigate, locate, arrest and extradite Lang so he would face justice before courts in the United States,” Argentieri said in a statement. 

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