The founder of one of Miami’s hottest restaurants will spend two years behind bars for meth trafficking.
Efrain Veiga, 64, the founder and former owner of Yuca, a Miami Beach eatery that helped put Cuban fusion on the culinary map, pleaded guilty and was sentenced last week to 24 months in prison – followed by three years of supervised released – for conspiring to distribute methamphetamines.
Veiga was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration in November 2014 after the agency was notified that Veiga was selling meth in Miami Beach.
During the investigation, Veiga sold about 70 grams of meth for $3,600 in a controlled purchased by the DEA, court documents show. The drug transaction was captured on video.
A lab analysis of the drugs Veiga sold to the agents found it was about 94.7 percent pure.
In December of last year, DEA agents searched Veiga’s Miami apartment, finding digital scales, wads of cash and a bag containing meth. Agents also found a plastic bag containing meth residue floating in the toilet, court documents said.
According to the Miami New Times, Veiga controlled a culinary mini-empire with two locations for Yuca – short for Young Urban Cuban-American – in Coral Gables and Miami Beach. He also opened the upscale Mexican restaurant Mayya with then-boyfriend and former Major League Baseball star Billy Bean and talk show host Cristina Saralegui.
Mayya closed within a year of opening. One of his Yuca restaurants remains open.
Veiga made headlines in 2008 when he and Bean broke up after 13 years together. The breakup was surrounded by tragedy after the restaurateur brought home 26-year-old Federico Schostak for a hook up.
According to The Miami Herald, Schostak fell asleep and never woke up. Toxicology tests concluded he had died of an overdose of GHB, once known as the “date rape” drug popular at nightclubs, which Veiga admitted he kept diluted in a bottle of sports water.
Veiga was never charged.