The Associated Press is reporting that on Monday evening, Mitt Romney appeared at a campaign event hosted by Reinaldo Bermudez, a convicted cocaine trafficker. Bermudez owns El Palacio de los Jugos, a fruit and juice shop in Miami. Appearing with Romney was Sen. Marco Rubio and after delivering brief remarks, the two men handed out juices to the assembled crowd.
Court documents show that Bermudez served three years in a federal prison after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine in 1999.
In November 1997, after a seven-month investigation by the FBI and U.S. Customs, Bermudez was identified as one of twelve people accused of participating in a Colombian drug smuggling operation. Approximately 2,850 pounds of cocaine were seized by agents at three South Florida ports over a period of several months: 430 pounds of cocaine at the Port of Palm Beach in July 1997, another 117 pounds at the Port of Miami in late September of the same year and culminating in the seizure of 2,304 pounds of cocaine in late October at Port Everglades.
It has been reported that Bermudez was investigated by the Secret Service, whom were aware of his criminal record when the Romney campaign asked to use his fresh fruit and vegetable stand for the campaign event.
Bermudez is quoted in the New Times as saying:
‘Here in Miami there are a lot people with money who have had problems with the law. Thankfully, we all have the opportunity in this country to re-enter society when we’ve done something wrong.’
Convicted felons, such as Bermudez are ineligible to vote in Florida without the governors intervention.