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Seven more face cocaine charges

By Times staff writers
© St. Petersburg Times,
published December 13, 2001

TAMPA -- Seven more defendants have been arrested in connection with an ongoing drug investigation that has netted more that 100 tons of cocaine.

According to a news release Wednesday from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa, police officials in Colombia working with FBI agents arrested the seven people in or near Bogota. The officials also searched 19 locations and seized real estate valued at more than $1-million and more than $100,000 in cash.

The defendants are Ruben Cuevas, Alirio Quinones, Numael Suarez, Luis Hernando Velazquez, Efrain Molano, Teofilo Castillo and Humberto Alvarado. They face charges of conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute. U.S. officials will ask the Colombian government to surrender the defendants so they can be extradited to the United States.

The arrests are part of an ongoing investigation that has led to arrests of more than 170 people, the news release said. Many of the arrests came after the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard chased or boarded fishing vessels and speed boats off the coast of South America in the Eastern Pacific. The seizures have been among the largest in the nation's history. Some of the boats have been towed to the Tampa area, where the trials have taken place.

Art museum campus firm picked

TAMPA -- The city has hired the Chicago architect and urban design firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP to create the campus-like setting for the new Tampa Museum of Art.

The Chicago firm also will design a new Tampa Bay History Center, an addition to the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, a riverwalk, an expanded waterfront park and a refurbished campus for the city's main public library.

All the projects are part of the mayor's 28-block Cultural District.

Last week, the city announced that it chose architect Rafael Vinoly to create a design that will replace the 22-year-old Tampa Museum of Art on Ashley Drive.

The new museum is expected to break ground by early 2003.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP was founded in 1936 and has completed more than 10,000 architecture, interior design and urban design projects in more than 50 countries. Some of these projects include the terminals at John F. Kennedy International Airport, the Bank of America building in San Francisco's financial district and the World Wide Plaza in New York.

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