June 11, 2024 2 min read


Fact-checked by Angel Hristov

Florida Authorities Bust Illegal Gambling Den, Seize Cash & Drugs

The so-called Operation Express Jackpot was carried out following an extensive investigation and led to the arrests of several people

Authorities have busted an illegal gambling den in Florida, arresting several people in the process. As announced by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office (SJSO), the police have also seized gambling machines, drugs and thousands of dollars in cash.

The so-called Operation Express Jackpot was carried out following an extensive investigation. Officers had been tipped off about an illegal gambling venue in Hastings for over six months, prompting the sending of undercover agents.

Undercover detectives went to the venue in question, the 207 Express Mart on West Church Street in Hastings, multiple times. On each occasion, they were able to purchase drug paraphernalia and play on unlicensed electronic gambling machines. The agents were also able to participate in several narcotics transactions in the property’s parking lot, SJSO added.

Using this information, deputies issued a search warrant for the business.

Several People Were Arrested

After raiding the 207 Express Mart, law enforcers reported seizing four gambling machines, a large amount of drug paraphernalia, gambling payout equipment and roughly $400,000 in cash.

Additionally, the SJSO received arrest warrants allowing it to take many of the people believed to have been involved in the operation into custody. Thanks to the joint efforts of the SJSO Special Investigations Unit, K9 Unit, Task Force and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, multiple people have been apprehended.

These include the following:

  • Hui Fang Iris Liu
  • Reginald Smith
  • James Patterson
  • Yvonne Hall
  • Phillip Myers
  • Sherry Williams

The arrestees have been slammed with numerous charges, including distribution and possession of drugs.

The Multi-agency Drug Abatement Response Team was also sent to the location and discovered a number of other shortcomings, related to electricity, food storage and cleanliness.

Sheriff Robert Hardwick commented on the matter, saying that the investigation highlights the strong relationship the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office shares with its community. He further emphasized that detectives responded immediately with a “professional and well-executed plan” resulting in a crackdown on the illegal business.

This investigation is just one example of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office commitment to provide first-class customer service to our entire community. Please remember, if you see something, say something.

Sheriff Robert Hardwick

The investigation is still ongoing and people who may have any knowledge of the matter are invited to contact the SJSO.


Angel has a passion for all forms of writing, be it fiction or nonfiction. His curious nature gives him an ace up his sleeve when researching a new topic. Angel’s thirst for knowledge, paired with adaptability, always helps him find his way around.

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