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Man accused of trying to enter base with weapons

Authorities arrested a 21-year-old Brandon man Friday after he allegedly tried to enter MacDill Air Force Base armed with a gun and a knife.

Todd Christian Wiegler drove up to MacDill's Bayshore gate at about 8:40 a.m. in a 1989 Pontiac Firebird, telling security personnel he was there "to see Gen. Tommy Franks," said Tampa police spokesman Joe Durkin.

Wiegler was ordered out of his car. When he was outside, they saw a loaded handgun in the open area of the center console.

Wiegler was also wearing a knife in a sheath, Durkin said.

Tampa police officers arrested Wiegler on suspicion of carrying a concealed firearm and a concealed weapon.

Central Command officials would not say whether Franks was at the base Friday.

Franks is scheduled to hand over control of Central Command to Lt. Gen. John Abizaid on Monday.

Drug-smuggling suspects cleared for trial in U.S.

TAMPA _ Eight men who authorities say were smuggling drugs on a fishing boat near Costa Rica last week will face charges in Tampa.

The suspects were arrested June 28 aboard the Carlos David, which was carrying more than 3,500 pounds of cocaine, authorities said.

The Colombian government granted permission for the crew to be prosecuted in the U.S., said Steve Cole, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office. The suspects arrived in Tampa late Thursday.

The U.S. Coast Guard discovered the drugs in a false compartment of the Colombian vessel. The boat was turned over to Costa Rican authorities, and the Coast Guard confiscated the cocaine. The bust was a result of Operation Panama Express, a joint effort that includes several U.S. law enforcement agencies and foreign countries.

In recent weeks, the operation has netted seizures ranging from 2 to 4 tons of cocaine.

The latest bust brings the amount of cocaine seized in the operation to more than 200 tons and the arrest total to more than 300, Cole said.

Many of the cases have been tried in Tampa.

_ Staff, wire reports