In an attempt to get support from the Cuban-American community, Mitt Romney made a campaign stop at a restaurant in Miami on Monday. It turns out, the restaurant was owned by a convicted drug trafficker.
The restaurant, El Palacio de los Jugos, is known for its juices, fruits, and Cuban food. You wouldn’t know it, but the person running the restaurant, Reinaldo Bermudez, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine in 1997. Bermudez served a three-year sentence in prison for the charge.
Bermudez’s drug conviction was part of a large drug conspiracy, consisting of 11 other suspects with aliases ranging from “Fat Boy” and “Mogley,” to “Buckwheat.”
Word spread about Bermudez’s criminal record after the Miami New Times reported about it, stating that the charge was from a conspiracy which involved over a ton of cocaine. The cocaine traveled from Trinidad to ports in south Florida.
Many would think Romney was simply unaware of Bermudez’s past, but Bermudez assured the New Times that the Secret Service knew everything about him when they decided to use his restaurant as a campaign stop.
“They absolutely knew about my record,” Bermudez told the New Times. “The Secret Service checked everything. [The conviction] was not a problem. Everybody deserves a second chance.”
Romney’s campaign will have no effect on how Bermudez votes this year, since being a convicted felon in Florida means he is forbidden to vote.
The selection of Bermudez’s restaurant is surprising as most Republican candidates choose “more established” venues for Cuban-American campaign stops. One popular Republican spot is Versailles, an iconic coffee and food shop in Little Havana.