I-Team: 2 indicted for setting minks loose on Illinois farm

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Two men were indicted Thursday in Chicago for setting loose thousands of minks from a downstate farm. (WLS)

A campaign by animal rights groups last summer to "free the minks" from farms across the U.S. has now resulted in criminal charges. Two men were indicted Thursday in Chicago for setting loose thousands of minks from a suburban farm.

A year ago, it was "freedom summer" as animal activists went from farm to farm, cutting loose thousands of minks and foxes from their cages. This summer, that translates into federal indictments as prosecutors in Chicago charged two men in the campaign to save animals from the coat racks. Late Thursday afternoon, the California pair was indicted for allegedly freeing minks from a farm in Morris, Ill.

Nearly 20 years ago, the animal liberation front began its fur farm campaign with activists breaking into barns and releasing animals to save them from being made into luxury coats.

Last August at a farm in Morris, police found 2,000 mink had been freed, and a spray-painted message left behind said: "liberation is love." Two California men were indicted on federal charges of damaging and interfering with the operations of a mink farm and a second farm, a fox-raising facility northeast of Peoria.

One man, 25-year-old Tyler Lang, was arrested Thursday by the FBI in southern California. His alleged accomplice, 27-year-old Kevin Olliff, also known as Kevin Johnson, is already in prison. He's serving time in southern Illinois for possession of burglary tools, charges that came from the mink-freeing incident last summer.

Investigators say in early August of last year, the men were traveling through Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin targeting animal farms.

Their case has already become a popular rallying point for animal rights activists on the website, http://supportkevinandtyler.com/.

The accused mink men are set for arraignment in federal court Chicago on July 29. If convicted, they face up to 10 years in prison.
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