3 To Know: Big bust, Fourth travel

Marco Eagle

1. Interstate 75 driver had 43 pounds of marijuana in trunk, Collier deputies say

Collier County sheriff's deputies arrested a Miami man they said was trafficking more than 40 pounds of marijuana in his car Tuesday afternoon.

Deputies said they stopped Ibrahim Michael Makhoul, 24, near the Interstate 75 toll plaza on suspicion of illegally tinted windows on his black BMW. They said they checked Makhoul's background and found records of previous criminal charges. Deputies then searched his vehicle, first the exterior with a K-9 unit.

Marijuana confiscated during a traffic stop on I-75 Tuesday.

The deputies said they found 43½ pounds of packaged marijuana in the trunk of the car. Makhoul said he had not opened the trunk since buying the car.

“It’s crazy,” Ibrahim told deputies. “I don’t know how they gave me the car like that, like with the middle thing shut and the back thing shut, too.”

Evidence in the trunk contradicted Makhoul's remarks, deputies said.

Ibrahim's passenger fled the scene during the search, jumping over a fence and swimming through a nearby canal. He remained at large Wednesday evening.

Ibrahim was arrested and taken to the Naples Jail Center.

2. More people to travel this July 4th, AAA says

A record number of U.S. travelers will venture beyond their homes by 50 miles or more this Fourth of July, according to a forecast released Thursday from auto club AAA.

A total of 44.2 million people will take to the roads, skies, rails and waterways to celebrate Independence Day, AAA says.

That’s an increase of 1.25 million travelers over last year, making it the most traveled Independence Day weekend since AAA has been counting. That is a 2.9 percent increase over last year this time.

“Combined, strong employment, rising incomes and higher consumer confidence bode well for the travel industry, in particular this Independence Day weekend,” Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president of Travel and Publishing, said in a written statement.

AAA defines this year’s Independence Day holiday travel period as Friday, June 30, to Tuesday, July 4.

More people will drive to their destinations—37.5 million people, an increase of 2.9 percent over last year.

3. Budget makes 2022 completion of Herbert Hoover Dike challenging

President Donald Trump’s promise to fast-track completion of the Herbert Hoover dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee won’t be easy to honor.

The $82 million Trump set aside in his 2018 budget proposal to upgrade and fortify the aging dike is slightly more than the project received this year. But unless Congress adds to that amount, Trump’s pledge to Florida Gov. Rick Scott that he would provide enough funding to finish the project by 2022 could be difficult to keep.

Construction on Herbert Hoover Dike is seen on an aerial tour of South Florida Water Management District projects March 24, 2017 near Lake Okeechobee.

Given that the remaining federal share is estimated at about $930 million, Washington would have to pony up more than $200 million on average in each of the next four budgets to meet the target date. The project has never received more than $153 million in any previous year.

Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, said the president’s proposal falls short.

“While the Herbert Hoover Dike did get an increase over (2017), it still isn’t enough to fully fund construction and meet the project’s completion date,” said Rooney, whose district includes a large portion of the lake.