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7 accused of trying to import cocaine

Seven people from South Florida were arrested in Tampa late last week during a federal undercover sting of a cocaine importing ring.

According to federal court records, undercover agents posed as smugglers who needed help unloading 5 tons of cocaine coming from Mexico.

Last month the agents approached Jose Julio Franco. After a series of meetings and phone calls in Miami and Tampa, Franco's organization agreed to supply "go fast" boats and a commercial shrimp boat to meet the fictitious "mother ship."

Last week, the agents staged the phony arrival of the cocaine, after which Franco arranged a $100,000 payment for some of the drugs, which he said he could sell through his own contacts, according to records.

On Friday, agents arrested five people, and then arrested Lopez and his father Saturday when they arrived in Tampa to collect their payment for assisting the off-loading. All seven were being held in federal custody on Monday.

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