Florida Cops Raid Four Illegal Bolita Gambling Operations

Five suspects were arrested earlier this month after Florida officers searched four illicit gaming operations in Port St. Lucie.

A Port St. Lucie, Fla. police vehicle, pictured above. Officers raided illegal gambling operations. (Image: Flickr)

Each legitimate business ran illegal bolita games, police said. Bolita in Spanish is defined as β€œlittle ball.”

They are a form of lottery that have been historically popular in Florida and Cuba. In these operations, the winning numbers followed New York State Lottery numbers, but the game weren’t connected to the government-run lottery, local police said.

The charged suspects were identified as Bryant Francisco, Chimy Ismero, Josiane LaPointe, Big John Petion, and Revelyn Tejeda-Serrata, according to Florida TV station WPEC.

Each was booked on May 10 at the St. Lucie County jail by the Port St. Lucie Police Department (PSLPD) for lottery violations. Each suspect posted bond and were released from custody. Their cases were turned over to local prosecutors.

The court-approved raids followed a two-month long inquiry into illegal gambling in the city.

The investigation began after local police got a tip about illegal gambling taking place at various businesses.

Undercover Officer

To investigate the allegations, local police used an undercover detective from the West Palm Beach, Fla. Police Department.

He was unknown to the suspects and went into each of the four gambling sites. He gambled at each property.

People would pick numbers, they would number these balls, put them in a plastic bag and just pull them out, like you’d see normally done with the lotto machine on TV, so it’s kind of a game of chance,” PSLPD Chief Richard Del Toro later explained to WPEC.

Evidence was reviewed by a Florida judge who approved search warrants.

Local police officers, a SWAT team, the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, and other officials then raided each of the businesses.

They were identified as:

Cale Marketplace
Malaika Caribbean Restaurant
Frienz Mini Mart
And Balla Unisex Salon

Citations Given

The four raided businesses were cited for illegal gambling, unpermitted use of property, and business tax receipt violations, according to the news report.Β If convicted, the businesses could each face fines of up $15K.

As of this month, it appeared each of the four operations weren’t connected to each other, police said. In total, officers seized approximately $10K in cash during the raids.

Given the results of the investigation, Del Toro said the investigation is continuing elsewhere in the city.

It definitely makes me think that there are more,” the chief said in a statement quoted by WPEC. β€œI mean, just the odds of the fact that there’s four separate businesses operating the same type of illegal gambling makes me believe this is probably a problem throughout the city that we’re going to have to look into.”

β€œThese are legitimate businesses that are doing this, but they’re operating this illegal scam,” Del Toro further told Treasure Coast Newspapers. β€œIt’s unregulated, it’s illegal. The payout amount is not guaranteed, and sometimes is being withheld by the store owners.”

The post Florida Cops Raid Four Illegal Bolita Gambling Operations appeared first on Casino.org.