SPRING HILL, FL – On May 21, 2021 at approximately 12:11 a.m., the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office Vice and Narcotics Unit executed a search warrant at 3069 Anderson Snow Road in Spring Hill. According to detectives, the business, “Sweeps,” was an illegal gambling “game room.”
The Sheriff’s Office has been working for months to educate the owners and operators of these establishments to work within the Florida State Statute (law). Businesses were provided a “cease and desist” letter advising them they are operating illegally, allowing the owners to adjust their operations to comply with Florida Statute.
Several establishments changed their practices or shut down completely. An investigation revealed Sweeps was operating in violation of Florida State Statute, and detectives also noted narcotics activity in and around the business.
Upon execution of the search warrant, two employees, Thomas Deruedas, 22, and Johnny Mendez, 24, were each charged with Keeping a Gambling House, Florida State Statute 849.01 and Possession of a Slot Machine. They were transported to the Hernando County Detention Center where their bonds were set at $2,000 each.
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During the execution of the search warrant, detectives seized $19,187 in cash and various gambling machines. More than a dozen patrons were observed on scene and actively gambling. The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office educated the patrons explaining that they too can be charged with a crime for participating in these game rooms. The patrons were issued warnings and released on scene.
Additionally, one patron was arrested on various drug charges. Charles Townsend, 51, was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, introduction of contraband into a detention center, and possession of paraphernalia. his bond was set at $6,000.
While these types of establishments are considered enjoyment by some citizens, they also attract a criminal element to the area. Drug use and sales, weapons disturbances, fights, and robberies are known to occur at these types of establishments.
This creates a safety concern for the patrons and employees of these game rooms, as well as the surrounding businesses and neighborhoods. The Sheriff’s Office will continue to investigate other businesses in violation of Florida gambling laws, and we are committed to educating our citizens on the matter.