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Authorities seize 5 tons of cocaine, arrest 13

By Times staff writers

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 29, 2000

TAMPA -- Federal prosecutors announced Wednesday the seizure of 5 tons of cocaine off the coast of Ecuador and the arrest of 13 people on trafficking charges.

On June 17, U.S. authorities chased and caught a speedboat with four people and 2 tons of cocaine aboard, a federal prosecutor said. The next day, U.S. authorities stopped nine people in two identical, blue, 40-foot "go-fast" boats, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

One boat contained 3 tons of cocaine, and the other was fitted with extra fuel tanks to assist in a long-range journey, officials said. The boats were towed to Tampa and arrived late Tuesday.

The 13 crew members, many of whom were Colombian nationals with no local ties, made their initial appearance in federal court Wednesday. They entered pleas of not guilty, and a magistrate ordered them held pending further proceedings.

Former bar owners sentenced for tax evasion

TAMPA -- The former owners of a popular country bar are going to prison for trying to hide more than $1-million in income from the Internal Revenue Service.

Wednesday, a federal judge sentenced Norbert Nissen and his daughter and business partner, Dawn Langston, to prison after their February convictions for conspiracy to impede the IRS and for filing false income tax returns.

Nissen was sentenced to two years in prison, with another two years of supervised release. The judge ordered Langston to spend one year and one day in prison, followed by two years of supervised release.

Also, Nissen and Langston must pay $367,468 in joint restitution to the IRS.

Nissen and Langston owned the Dallas Bull on U.S. 301 from 1991 to 1993. In that time, the IRS charged, they kept two sets of books, one recording the real income of the bar and one used to document the much lower false income they reported to the IRS. Undercover agents discovered the bar's real income when they posed as potential buyers.

Body of 25-year-old Lutz man found in Tampa motel

TAMPA -- The body of a 25-year-old Lutz man was found in a Hillsborough Avenue motel room about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Michael William Ragan died from a gunshot wound, Tampa police said. Officers found his body at the Motel Eastgate after responding to a 911 call. Investigators are waiting for the results of an autopsy to determine whether the gunshot was self-inflicted or he was the victim of foul play.

Ragan's address at Lake Carlton Arms Apartments is shared by his mother.

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