In an effort to crack down on illegal for-hire vehicles operating at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) during the upcoming busy holiday season, Airport Police officers conducted a “sting” operation Monday, November 14th.
More than 15 uniformed and plain-clothes officers from the Airport Police Ground Transportation Enforcement Unit conducted the law enforcement operation to target illegal for-hire vehicles also known as “bandit taxis” that operate at LAX, said officer Belinda Nettles, Airport Police spokeswoman.
The daylong operation resulted in four drivers being cited for illegal for-hire violations and their vehicles impounded.
Airport Police consider bandit taxis unsafe because they are not permitted by the California Public Utilities Commission or the City of Los Angeles to provide for-hire transportation service.
The bandit taxi vehicles are often found to have mechanical problems, Airport Police said.
Bandit taxi drivers generally do not have a proper commercial driver’s license or carry commercial insurance, which “puts the passengers in jeopardy,” Nettles said.
Airport Police monitor illegal for-hire vehicles throughout the year and conduct sting operations to enhance the personal safety and security of passengers who use commercial ground transportation services at LAX, police said.
The sting operation November 14th was part of the effort to reduce illegal commercial ground transportation activity at the airport during the upcoming holiday travel season, but also to make the traveling public aware of the activity, Nettles said.
“The main focus of the crack down now is due to the busy holiday season,” she said.
Airport Police advise passengers to only board ground transportation vehicles at designated ground transportation stands on the lower arrivals level.
Passengers should not be solicited by drivers in the airport terminals or on the curbside, police advise.
“The only drivers that any passenger should be approached by are at the taxi stands,” Nettles said.
During the law enforcement operation November 14th, four bandit taxis were stopped and investigated. All four drivers were cited by police and their vehicles were impounded.
One of the drivers was allegedly operating a taxi with a suspended driver’s license and no permits, police said.
Two drivers were cited for illegally soliciting passengers in the terminals and another driver was allegedly operating an unmarked rented van, police said.
The total fines for citation and impound could reach more than $1,000 for each driver.
This year Airport Police have issued 116 citations to drivers for operating without proper permits or illegal solicitation of passengers, and 102 vehicles have been impounded.