Inside Politics: Host for Romney event a convicted drug dealer

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MIAMI — Mitt Romney held a campaign event Monday evening at a Miami juice shop owned by a convicted cocaine trafficker.

Mr. Romney appeared at El Palacio de los Jugos, which is owned by Reinaldo Bermudez. Court records show that Mr. Bermudez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine in 1999 and served three years in federal prison.

Appearing with Mr. Romney was Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Both men handed out juices to an excited crowd after making brief remarks. Mr. Romney was filming a campaign ad at the juice shop, aides said.

In media reports in November 1997, Mr. Bermudez was identified as one of 12 people accused in a Colombian drug smuggling operation. The arrests followed a seven-month investigation led by the FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Agents seized about 2,850 pounds of cocaine at three South Florida ports over several months.

Agents first seized 430 pounds of cocaine at the Port of Palm Beach in July 1997 and then 117 pounds in late September at the Port of Miami. Those shipments were concealed in containers filled with fish imported from Trinidad, an island in the south Caribbean. The largest and final seizure came in late October at Port Everglades, where officials found 2,304 pounds of cocaine in a container of soap imported from Venezuela.

COLORADO

No press at Ryan’s first meeting with donors

DENVER — Mitt Romney’s campaign blocked reporters from covering GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s first meeting with donors in Las Vegas.

Tuesday night’s event at the Venetian hotel was expected to draw casino owner and Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson.

The decision to block access marks an apparent break from rules previously established by Mr. Romney’s campaign.

Reporters usually are allowed to cover President Obama’s fundraisers held in public venues.

A Romney aide not authorized to speak on the record said the event was closed to the media because it was a “finance meeting” instead of a fundraiser. The aide said fewer than 40 people — the typical threshold for access — were scheduled to attend.

Mr. Ryan attended two Denver-area fundraisers on Monday night at which media coverage also was prohibited.

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