Multi-Agency Law Enforcement Action At Los Angeles Airport

A multi-agency law enforcement operation conducted March 3 at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) resulted in 14 commercial ground transportation vehicles being pulled from service and 19 drivers cited for violations with potential fines averaging $400.

The goal of the operation was to enhance the personal safety of the general public who use commercial ground transportation services.

Nearly 40 representatives from Los Angeles Airport Police, the California Highway Patrol (CHP), the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) Landside Operations and Airfield Permits Units conducted operations in front of Terminal 7 and in the airport's commercial ground transportation holding lot.

This most recent multi-agency efforts culminated "Operation: Terminal Sweep," a series of ground transportation law enforcement actions that began last November as a single-agency operation conducted by Airport Police and LAWA administrative units. During an earlier operation this past weekend, Airport Police impounded nearly 20 commercial ground transportation vehicles for various violations and issued dozens of citations.

In 2004, Airport Police arrested several "bandit" drivers operating illegally at LAX and impounded 73 vehicles. One arrest involved a "bandit" taxi driver, who was turned over to U.S. Customs & Border Protection after that agency identified him as an "undesirable" in the United States.

The operation conducted March 3 focused on unannounced inspections of commercial ground transportation vehicles and included both mechanical and administrative processes. Nearly 120 limousines, door-to-door shuttle vans, taxis, long-distance vans and buses, and hotel and private parking lot courtesy shuttles were pulled over for inspection during the 5-hour operation.

CHP officers and inspectors concentrated on mechanical equipment, including braking systems, passenger restraints and other safety systems that are required to be in good working order. Airport Police Ground Transportation Unit officers, PUC investigators and LAWA analysts focused on proper licensing, PUC and airport operating permits, valid drivers' licenses and other law enforcement-related issues.

Of the total 118 vehicles inspected during the operation, five were towed/impounded for operating with suspended, expired or revoked PUC permits, and one for being too unsafe to drive on Los Angeles City streets.

Four additional vehicles were pulled from service for serious mechanical problems with steering, brakes and vehicle suspension. Five vehicles were prohibited from further operation at LAX until violations of the airport's ground transportation operating permit program are corrected. Transponders (devices that are attached to commercial vehicles to monitor the number of times they access and circuit the airport's Central Terminal Area roadways) were confiscated from these latter vehicles.

Nineteen drivers (including the drivers of the five impounded vehicles) were issued Personal Service Citations for misdemeanor violations including serious mechanical problems, improper insurance, driving with an out-of-class license, and invalid or no PUC permits. Fines for these citations average approximately $400 each, and the drivers must show proof of correction before they can resume for-hire operation.

Verbal warnings also were logged and issued to 32 drivers for minor infractions.

Some serious safety violations discovered on the March 3 raid included a for-hire vehicle with a gasoline-soaked paper towel being used as a gas cap, a hotel courtesy shuttle bus with its emergency escape window and door wired shut, and another hotel courtesy shuttle bus with failing brakes.

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