Ex-US Soldier Living in Ukraine Extradited to Face Charges in Deadly 2018 Armed Robbery

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
June 4, 2024Courts
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Ex-US Soldier Living in Ukraine Extradited to Face Charges in Deadly 2018 Armed Robbery
A soldiers stands in a street in Severodonetsk, in eastern Ukraine's Donbass region, on April 13, 2022. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP via Getty Images)

A former U.S. soldier has been extradited from Ukraine to the United States to face federal charges in connection with a double murder and armed robbery, among other alleged offenses.

U.S. federal authorities recently brought Craig Austin Lang, 34, of Surprise, Arizona, back from Ukraine to face charges in the federal courts for the Middle District of Florida, the Eastern District of North Carolina, and the District of Arizona. The U.S. Department of Justice announced Mr. Lang had been turned over to their custody and made his first court appearance in Fort Myers, Florida on Monday.

Prosecutors originally charged Mr. Lang in 2019 alongside Alex Jared Zwiefelhofer, another U.S. soldier who was allegedly absent without leave (AWOL) from the Army.

The two men were charged for the 2018 double homicide of a Florida couple. Prosecutors alleged the two men offered to sell multiple firearms online through the Armslist website and then proceeded to ambush the couple in an armed robbery. They are alleged to have stolen $3,000 that the couple brought to complete the firearms purchase, killing the couple in the process.

Mr. Zwiefelhofer was living in Wisconsin when federal prosecutors first announced the charges in August 2019. Mr. Lang was living in Ukraine when the charges were announced and has since fought extradition back to the United States.

Feds: Robbery Meant to Fund Foreign Combat Adventures

Prosecutors alleged Mr. Lang and Mr. Zwiefelhofer met in 2017 while both men were in Ukraine and working on behalf of a Ukrainian volunteer militia fighting against separatists in the eastern part of the country. Some in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region have been fighting to break away from Ukraine since 2014 after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted from office.

During their initial September 2019 charging announcement, the DOJ said Mr. Lang was detained in Ukraine pursuant to a provisional arrest request from the United States.

In February of 2022, ABC News reported that they had tracked Mr. Lang down and found him to be living relatively freely with a Ukrainian wife and child in Kyiv. ABC News asked Mr. Lang about the 2018 killings in Florida and his alleged involvement with Ukrainian militia groups, but he reportedly halted the interview as they asked him about alleged neo-Nazi and racist ideology within certain Ukrainian militias.

Prosecutors have alleged that Mr. Lang and Mr. Zwiefelhofer sought to move on from Ukraine and involve themselves in other conflicts in Africa and Venezuela. Investigators believe Mr. Lang and Mr. Zwiefelhofer set up the 2018 ambush armed robbery in Florida to fund their plans to travel to and fight in Venezuela.

A federal jury found Mr. Zwiefelhofer guilty in March on charges of “conspiracy to commit robbery affecting commerce and to discharge a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, robbery interfering in commerce, and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, resulting in death.” Other charges included conspiring to kill persons in a foreign country and violating the Neutrality Act. He faces up to life in prison and is set to be sentenced in August.

Mr. Lang also faces a maximum sentence of life in prison in connection with the deadly 2018 robbery in Florida.

Alleged Secret Travel Scheme

In addition to allegedly carrying out a deadly ambush robbery to fund foreign combat adventures, prosecutors allege Mr. Lang also engaged in other illegal acts in September 2018 to facilitate his foreign travel while evading federal law enforcement detection.

Prosecutors charged Mr. Lang in the Eastern District of North Carolina in August of 2019, alleging he submitted a passport application in the name of an alleged co-conspirator Dameon Shae Adcock. They allege Mr. Lang provided Mr. Adcock with a suitcase containing multiple firearms, a military smoke grenade, and approximately $1,500 in cash as payment for the use of Mr. Adcock’s personal information.

Mr. Lang and a second alleged co-conspirator, Matthew Scott McCloud, allegedly applied for a U.S. passport using the identity of another alleged co-conspirator, Jordan Dean Miller, and purchased tickets to travel from New York state to Ukraine.

Messrs. Adcock, McCloud, and Miller were all previously charged in connection with the passport fraud scheme and have pleaded guilty to the charges. Mr. Adcock received an eight-month prison sentence, Mr. McCloud was given a sentence of time served, while Mr. Miller received a one-year prison sentence in connection with the scheme.

Along with a potential life sentence in Florida, Mr. Lang faces up to 25 years in prison in the Eastern District of North Carolina for his alleged involvement in the passport fraud scheme.

He faces further charges in an Arizona federal court for allegedly presenting a U.S. passport to Mexican authorities in an effort to obtain a Mexican visa, violating the conditions and restrictions on that passport. The charges in the Arizona District Court put Mr. Lang at risk of another 10 years in prison if convicted.

NTD News reached out to lawyers representing Mr. Lang about the case but they did not respond by publication time.

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