By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN Scott DeMuth, of Minneapolis, is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 28 in the District Court of Southern Iowa for a crime he committed in Howard Lake in 2006.
DeMuth pled guilty Sept. 13 to one count of misdemeanor conspiracy to commit animal enterprise terrorism for his role in the April 29, 2006 Animal Liberation Front (ALF) raid on Lakeside Ferrets in Howard Lake.
This was the second time that Gene Latzig, owner of Lakeside Ferrets, once known as Latzig Mink Ranch, had been raided by ALF activists.
ALF activists raided the farm in 1996, releasing 1,000 mink, in one of the first mink liberations in the US, according to the North American Animal Liberation Front press office.
A communiqué sent by ALF activists after the raid in 2006 stated, “In the early morning hours of April 29, our small band of do-gooders made our way through muddy fields and wet forests to descend upon Latzig Mink Ranch in Howard Lake, MN.
“It has been 10 years since the ALF last visited this farm, and it has been too long since there has been a liberation.”
The communiqué claimed that hundreds of mink had been released into the surrounding countryside.
At the time, however, Latzig did not have any mink on the farm. He was raising ferrets to be sold at pet stores.
The ALF activists cut holes in the perimeter fence around the ferret housing units, tore up breeding cards used to record activity in each cage, removed nesting boxes, and let ferrets out of their cages, according to court documents.
When Latzig grabbed a net the following morning to recapture the ferrets, he found a hole had been cut in it.
Deputies from Wright County were called to investigate, and they found tracks in the woods surrounding the farm, and multiple sets of footprints were clearly visible, according to court documents.
Why did it take so long to prosecute DeMuth?
In August 2008, a multi-agency investigation into anti-Republican National Convention (RNC) protest activity in the Twin Cities culminated in the raids, arrests, and conspiracy charges against anarchist organizers.
FBI agents, in a search of DeMuth’s room, came across a journal they believed linked DeMuth to a 2004 ALF raid at the University of Iowa (UI). FBI officials also seized a Dell laptop from DeMuth’s room, according to court documents.
The ALF raid at UI caused more than $500,000 in damage. Over 300 animals were released, and chemicals were dumped on data, and computers and equipment were damaged.
In fall 2009, US Assistant Attorney Cliff Cronk subpoenaed DeMuth and Carrie Feldman to appear before a grand jury for the 2004 University of Iowa raid by the ALF.
Both DeMuth and Feldman were offered immunity in exchange for their testimony, but refused to testify. They were jailed in Iowa on civil contempt charges.
Feldman spent four months in jail before being released with no explanation.
DeMuth was indicted for conspiracy to commit animal enterprise terrorism in connection to the UI raid, according to court documents.
Between the fall of 2009 and April 2010, DeMuth’s lawyers attempted to get the charges against him dismissed.
Then, after authorities inspected the laptop owned by DeMuth and seized in the 2008 search of his home, DeMuth was indicted April 13, 2010 for conspiracy to commit animal enterprise terrorism, this time in connection with what happened at UI, and in connection to the 2006 ALF raid of Lakeside Ferrets.
The laptop showed that DeMuth had searched for animal enterprises in Minnesota and Utah utilizing Google Earth, One was the site for Latzig’s farm in Howard Lake.
DeMuth finally pled guilty Sept. 13 to one count of misdemeanor conspiracy to commit animal enterprise terrorism for his role in the raid at Lakeside Ferrets.
The plea agreement stipulates that DeMuth will spend six months in jail, pay a special assessment of $10, and will waive any objection to the venue (being charged and prosecuted in Iowa for a crime committed in Minnesota).