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Uber drivers arrested in sting claim entrapment

LOS ANGELES -- Three Uber drivers who were arrested in undercover sting operations targeting livery drivers who pick up street fares say they're the victims of entrapment, reports CBS Los Angeles.

Roy Freeman, Michael Chadwick and Sid Lomeli say they were targeted by police on a recent Friday, because of they had the logo of the app-based transit company in the windshield.

Each of the men said they were flagged down by a woman on the side of the road who appeared to be looking for a ride.

"I almost thought she maybe needed help or something," Chadwick told CBS Los Angeles.

Although Uber drivers are not allowed to pick up customers who haven't pre-arranged their rides, the drivers said they pulled over, thinking the "customer" could use the app right there in order to make the pick-ups legal.

But the woman said she did not have the Uber app, and insisted on getting a ride, they said.

"She said, 'Come on, I really need to go to this place. I really need to go, please,'" Lomeli said.

They said when they accepted, she revealed that she was an undercover police officer trying to catch "bandit cabs" who accept off the books rides for cash.

"My door was open and, next thing I know, the cops are behind with the sirens on," Chadwick said.

Police arrested all three drivers and impounded their vehicles.

A Los Angeles Department of Transportation spokesperson confirmed to CBS Los Angeles that the agency participates in these types of operations, along with Los Angeles police. He said Uber drivers, and many others -- such as limo drivers for example -- are subject to arrest if a ride isn't pre-arranged.

Chadwick said he thinks the tactic is unfair.

"Bluntly, I think it's very cruel," Chadwick said. "This could have been handled in a much better way. This is going to set me back bad."

The Los Angeles Police Department and Uber did not respond to requests for comment.

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