Sports Betting

Five Suspects Were Arrested in Florida after they were raided for running illegal gambling operations

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Bolita Florida pic

Earlier this month, four legitimate businesses in Port St. Lucie were raided after a two-month-long investigation by law enforcement. Each of these businesses ran an illegal betting came called Bolita. It means “little ball” in Spanish. Bolita is an illegal lottery game that has been popular in Florida and Cuba. It followed the winning numbers in the New York State Lottery, but Bolita is not connected to anything the government runs. The five suspects charged were Bryant Francisco, Chimy Ismero, Josiane LaPointe, Big John Petion, and Revelyn Tejeda-Serrata, per Florida’s WPEC TV station. They were all booked on May 10 at the St. Lucie County jail. Their cases were turned over to local prosecutors.

How was law enforcement able to catch these illegal gambling operations?

An undercover detective from the West Palm Beach police department was used to help investigate. The undercover detective was not known by anyone in the businesses he went to. He was able to bet on all four of the businesses that were being monitored. Port St. Lucie Polie Department Chief Richard Del Toro had this to say.

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,” – Chief Richard Del Toro

Evidence was then reviewed by a Florida judge who then approved search warrants. Local authorities, a SWAT team, and the Florida Division of Alcohol Beverages and Tabacco raided the four businesses. They were identified as Cale Marketplace, Malaika Caribbean Restaurant, Frienz Mini Mart, and Balla Unisex Salon.

What repercussions do these businesses face?

All four of the raided businesses were cited for illegal gambling, unpermitted use of property, and business tax receipt violations. If they are convinced, each could have to pay fines of up to $15,000. Local authorities believe that none of the operations were connected. During the police raid, they collected approximately $10,000 in cash. Chief Del Toro believes there are more of these illegal Bolita operations being run in Florida. The police will have to do some serious investigation to figure out whether other illegal Bolita operations could be happening in Florida.