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Press Release

Former Soldier Turned Foreign Fighter Extradited To Face Charges In April 2018 Double Homicide And Armed Robbery Of Brooksville Couple

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Fort Myers, Florida – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces the extradition of Craig Austin Lang (34, Surprise, Arizona) from Ukraine to the United States to stand trial for six federal offenses. Lang, along with his co-defendant Alex Jared Zwiefelhofer (27, Bloomer, Wisconsin), was charged in 2019 in a conspiracy to commit robbery and discharging 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, which resulted in the death of a couple from Brooksville, Florida. Lang is also charged with conspiring to kill, kidnap, or maim persons in a foreign country and a violation of the Neutrality Act. If convicted on all counts, Lang faces a maximum sentence of life in federal prison. Zwiefelhofer was convicted as charged at trial on March 8, 2024, and is scheduled for sentencing on August 6, 2024.

According to court documents, on April 10, 2018, two individuals, S.L., Jr. and D.L., were found dead in Estero, Florida from multiple gunshot wounds to the head and body. Further investigation revealed that the couple had traveled to Estero from Brooksville to complete the purchase of several firearms from an individual who had listed them for sale on a website known as Armslist. As a result of the investigation, Zwiefelhofer and Lang were identified as the individuals who were believed to have murdered the couple during an armed robbery of the $3,000 the couple had intended to use to purchase the firearms. 

The superseding indictment further alleges that Zwiefelhofer and Lang formed and pursued a plan to fight the Venezuelan government and committed the robbery of S.L., Jr. and D.L. to obtain money to fund their travel to Venezuela for that purpose. Both Lang and Zwiefelhofer were formerly in the U.S. military before traveling overseas to Ukraine to engage in fighting, where they met. They then traveled to Kenya to fight in South Sudan before they were arrested and deported back to the United States. After being in the United States for a short time, both Lang and Zwiefelhofer planned to travel to Venezuela to fight alongside others.  Lang and Zwiefelhofer met in Florida in April 2018, where they allegedly planned to take a boat to Venezuela, but their plan fell through. 

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jesus M. Casas and Michael V. Leeman.

Lang’s extradition from Ukraine occurred after the European Court of Human Rights recently rejected his claim challenging extradition from Ukraine under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The FBI escorted Lang from Ukraine to the United States. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and the FBI Tampa Field Office Fort Myers Resident Agency provided significant assistance in securing the arrest, extradition, and removal of Lang to the United States. The United States also thanks Ukrainian authorities for their valuable assistance.

Updated June 3, 2024

Violent Crime