EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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May 18, 2013

Crackdown on out-of-town cabbies heats up


“He had the cab number,” Vasque said. “When he saw him today, he issued the citation.”

Andover cab driver Leandro Gonzalez, a Lawrence resident, was using a break to take his daughter to the South Lawrence East school yesterday when he was stopped by Officer William Green, who said he believed Gonzalez was carrying a passenger, Tapia said.

“Leandro said, ‘I’m taking my daughter to school,’ ‘‘ Tapia said. “(The officer said), ‘No. You’re working.’”

Gonzalez was given a $35 ticket for making an illegal U-turn.

Gonzalez’s path crossed with police a second time yesterday after he picked up Elisa Rosario on Atkinson Street and dropped her off on Jamaica Street. Both addresses are in Lawrence.

Ten minutes after the drop off, a cop was knocking on Rosario’s door. As he questioned her, Rosario called Tapia at the Andover cab company.

“He was asking her all kinds of questions — ‘Where did he pick you up?’” Tapia said. “She called me here. She said, ‘He’s asking me questions. I don’t know what to do.’ She was nervous. I said, ‘Can you put him on the phone?’ When she was passing the phone to him, he hung up.”

Vasque said Gonzalez has not yet been cited for picking up Rosario in Lawrence, but will be.

Of all the Andover drivers cited yesterday, Santos Alvarez may be hurting the most. His vehicle was towed after Officer Gary Yancy allegedly observed him picking up a fare on Essex Street, which will add a $145 fee to the $500 fine if he is convicted.

Tapia said the citations issued to his drivers yesterday brought the total number to about two dozen, at $500 each. Vasque said the number is about half that.

In his lawsuit challenging the city law banning out-of-town cabbies from picking up in Lawrence, Tapia likens it to a “barbed wire surrounding the city” and alleges it is intended only to protect “the three large taxi cartels” that hold 90 percent of Lawrence’s hack licenses.

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