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Rideshare Passengers Are Routinely Carting Drugs, Driver Says

JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) -- A work horse, or a drug mule?

A Joliet rideshare driver says passengers are routinely carting narcotics into Ubers and Lyfts. CBS 2's Lauren Victory explains inside the problem and how  each company is trying to combat the bad behavior.

It's a rare occasion to find the nocturnal Jennifer Reid out in the daytime.

"I actually like working during the night better," she said.

Reid drives Uber and Lyft in the wee hours to avoid traffic. And as she noted, "People tend to be more fun."

But a group of partying passengers was actually the very reason behind Reid's drive with Victory while the sun was shining. Reid talked about one of her darkest rides.

"When they got out, I looked in the back because I had a feeling," Reid said, "and I saw the white baggie with a little bit left in it, and then some white powder on the floor and on the seat."

She said she immediately took pictures and sent them to a friend.

"And he was like, 'yeah, that's cocaine" Reid said.

Reid said she often hears other Uber and Lyft drivers also expressing concerns about passengers having drugs.

She works with Chicago Rideshare Advocates, and asked members to email her similar stories.

One wrote about a rider that tried to "tip me in pills." Another driver carries Narcan to reduce opioid overdoses, That after yelling, 'wake up' didn't work for a passenger whose "eyes were rolled back."

"We hear about this all the time," said attorney Bryant Greening of Legal Rideshare. "Drivers are concerned that they're being used as drug mules in a lot of situations – unknowingly."

Greening notes that Uber and Lyft have zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policies for drivers and riders. Both have platforms to report inappropriate behavior, and both promise to work with law enforcement.

But neither rideshare company answered CBS 2's question about helping drivers on the legal front.

Victory: "What happens if police stop you and you're an Uber driver and your passenger has drugs on them?"

Greening: "Everything is very fact-specific. There's not a one-size-fits-all answer for how to handle a situation."

As for Reid, she said she was never told whether the account of the passenger who left the cocaine behind had been deactivated, and was not given an update of any kind about that passenger.

Reid is frustrated by Uber's lack of follow-up with her, but acknowledged that the company did pay for her car to be cleaned.

"I just was annoyed and upset that it was brought into my car like that, and the fact that they actually did it in my car," Reid said. "It would nice to know for a fact that they are going after these people."

Chicago Police told CBS 2 that rideshare drivers rarely report drugs left by passengers to them, but police want that to change. Even trace amounts of narcotics from riders can lead investigators to a bigger case.

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