Former U.S. soldier from Arizona appears on murder charges

A globetrotting former U.S. soldier turned mercenary appeared in
federal court Monday to face a slew of charges, including murder, in
three states reportedly as part of his quest to fight with foreign

Craig Austin Lang, 34, of Surprise, Arizona, appeared
in Florida, but also faces the charges in Arizona and North Carolina for
what prosecutors detail as an intricate crime spree starting in 2018.

It’s difficult to pick a starting point for the saga, laid out and pieced together across multiple court documents,
that winds across the U.S., Europe, Africa and South America. For
clarity’s sake, prosecutors say Lang’s connection starts in 2017.

The indictments put Lang as one of two major players in the story, along with Alex Zwiefelhofer. 

2017, Lang claimed to investigators that he was in Ukraine as an
advisor to the country’s military in its fight against Russian
separatists. He had previously served in the U.S. Army from 2008 to

Sometime in 2017, Lang met Zwiefelhofer, who was AWOL from the U.S. Army. The two reportedly became close enough to travel to Kenya that year to join the fight against al-Shabab, a powerful al-Qaida affiliate in the Horn of Africa.

later told investigators that the duo decided to go to South Sudan in
June 2017 to join the government’s forces in that newborn country’s civil war.
Instead, they were detained by Kenyan authorities at the border for
trying to enter South Sudan without proper authorization and deported to
the U.S.

By April 2018, the two had met up again in Florida, even
though Zwiefelhofer was facing charges in North Carolina for sexually
explicit images of minors found on his phone when he got back to the

According to prosecutors,
the duo listed some firearms for sale online and found a buyer. But
when Danny and Deana Lorenzo met up with them in Estero, Florida,
outside of Fort Myers, the couple was gunned down. Prosecutors say Lang
planned to use the $3,000 they stole to finance his travel to Venezuela
to fight against the government with opposition forces.

But before
he could leave the country, Lang sought to throw off suspicions by
obtaining a passport in a different name, prosecutors say. 

and Matthew McCloud in August 2018 reportedly paid Dameon Adcock and
Jordan Dean Miller for their personal information in a scheme handled out of North Carolina,
where Lang’s mother had recently relocated. Prosecutors allege that
Lang then used that information to get a Virginia driver’s license under
Adcock’s name, while McCloud used Miller’s documents for North Carolina

Using the false identification, Lang and McCloud then reportedly applied for passports in Raleigh, North Carolina.

some point afterward, prosecutors say Lang used his new passport to get
a Mexican visa to travel to Colombia as part of his quest to fight
against the Venezuelan government. They also charge that Lang used the
documents to purchase airline tickets from New York to Kyiv to fight
with Ukraine’s military.

Zwiefelhofer was convicted in March for
his role in the spree and will be sentenced on Aug. 6. Adcock pleaded
guilty in November 2019 and received more than 2 years in prison while
Miller received one year of probation after pleading guilty in May 2020.

was arrested by Ukrainian border guards in September 2019. His charges
cover double homicide, armed robbery, violating the Neutrality Act,
conspiracy to kill, kidnap or maim persons in a foreign country,
conspiracy to interfere with commerce, firearms offenses, false
statements in a passport application, aggravated identity theft and
misuse of a passport. He faces life in prison.

Lang fought extradition from his arrest in 2019, but last year the European Court of Human Rights ruled that extradition would not violate his human rights.

Lang’s extradition hearing in Kyiv in 2021, he claimed U.S. authorities
intended to prosecute him for war crimes in Ukraine, according to BuzzFeed. He was reportedly part of a controversial far-right militia with white supremacist ties.