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6 people arrested after raid on 207 Express in Hastings for gambling and drug offences

According to police, undercover agents purchased drug paraphernalia, participated in electronic gambling at the store and were involved in drug deals.

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Eight people were arrested after undercover detectives found four gambling machines, a “large amount” of drug paraphernalia, gambling payout devices and about $400,000 in cash at a Hastings store in May, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office (SJSO) said Monday.

Police say the investigation, dubbed “Operation Express Jackpot,” came about over the course of a more than six-month investigation after the sheriff’s office received several tips from the public about illegal activity at the gas station and convenience store. The gas station, 207 Express, is located on West Church Street, according to SJSO.

“Investigators began an investigation and discovered evidence of drugs and illegal gambling activity on the property and in the store,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release. “Undercover officers purchased drug paraphernalia, participated in electronic gambling activities at the store on multiple occasions, and were involved in several drug transactions in the parking lot. Based on this information, officers executed a search warrant on the store (on May 31).”

SJSO says they have obtained several arrest warrants for “suspects of selling and possessing narcotics.”

Below are six of the eight people police say have been arrested “so far” in the operation, along with the charges against them:

  • Hui Fang Iris Liu, 40, charged with use, possession, manufacture, delivery, transportation, advertising or retail sale of drug paraphernalia
  • Reginald Smith, 64, charged with distribution of cocaine within 300 metres of a certain area
  • James Patterson, 49, charged with possession of cocaine and use or possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Yvonne Hall, 66, charged with use or possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of controlled substances without a prescription
  • Phillip Myers, 66, charged with possession of cocaine and use or possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Sherry Williams, 60, charged with distribution of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a specified area and unauthorized use of a two-way communication device

The SJSO raid on the store also revealed several electrical, food storage and cleanliness issues that “could impact the health and well-being of customers,” police said. The sheriff’s office said the gas station and convenience store received several citations as a result.

“This investigation is just one example of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office’s commitment to providing top-notch customer service to our entire community,” Sheriff Robert Hardwick said in the release. “Please remember: If you see something, say something.”

Police say the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information can contact investigators at SJSO at 904-824-8304. To remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-888-277-TIPS or email [email protected].


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