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updated: 7/11/2014 8:28 AM

Californians accused of freeing Illinois minks

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Associated Press

Two activists from California freed 2,000 minks from cages on an Illinois farm and spray-painted the words "Liberation is Love" on the side of a barn, a federal indictment unsealed on Thursday in Chicago alleges.

Tyler Lang, 25, and Kevin Johnson, 27, both of Los Angeles, also pulled down portions of fencing encircling the farm so the fleet-footed minks could escape the property altogether, the indictment says.

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The release of the minks -- which are sold for use in making coats and other luxury garments -- occurred in August of 2013 in Morris, Illinois, about 60 miles southwest of Chicago, a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office announcing the indictment said.

FBI agents arrested Lang Thursday in in El Segundo, California. Johnson, also known as "Kevin Olliff," was already in custody in Illinois, the statement says. Both are scheduled to appear before a federal judge in Chicago on July 29.

The names of the defendants' attorneys weren't immediately available.

Prosecutors described Lang and Johnson as plotting to travel across the United States, including to Iowa and Wisconsin, to stage similar releases at mink and fox farms.

Some of the minks released in Illinois were recaptured alive, but others died, a neighbor near the farm told The Chicago-Sun Times.

"A lot of them got hit by cars, and a lot we found in a corn field dead. They were hand-reared and didn't know how to hunt so many of them starved to death," Darren Caley told the newspaper.

Around the same time last year, the men also tried but failed to break into a fox farm Roanoke, Illinois, near Peoria in central Illinois, the indictment says.

The two-count indictment charges them with conspiracy and intrastate travel to damage and interfere with the operations of an animal enterprise. A conviction on a single count carries a maximum five-year prison sentence.

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