Crime

Central Coast Uber driver caught at Mexico border after alleged rape of rider

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A Santa Maria Uber driver suspected of raping a female customer was arrested last week at the U.S.-Mexico border, and police are now looking for other possible victims.

Santa Maria Police Department announced in a news release Thursday that they had arrested Shadi Aziz Abdul, a 37-year-old resident of the city.

The news release says that late last month, Santa Maria police detectives conducted a sexual assault investigation in which the victim told investigators that she had an Uber driver pick her up for a ride.

The victim said the driver took her to a different location from her destination and sexually assaulted her. An investigation identified the driver as Abdul, the release says.

“What has been described is troubling and unacceptable,” an Uber spokesperson told The Tribune. “The driver’s access to the Uber app has been removed.”

A judge reportedly issued a warrant for Abdul’s arrest, and last week, ICE agents located him at the border in San Diego.

Abdul was brought from San Diego to Santa Barbara County Jail on Monday, and he was booked on suspicion of rape, the department said. It was not immediately clear Thursday afternoon if he has retained an attorney or whether he’s been arraigned in Santa Barbara Superior Court.

The department said that based on the circumstances, detectives believe there may be other victims or witnesses to this or similar crimes.

Anyone with information on this or related crimes is asked to call Detective Silver at 805-928-3781, ext. 1346.

The cast is the latest to allege sexual assault by Central Coast ride-share drivers.

In San Luis Obispo County, two drivers — one who worked for Uber and another from Lyft — are facing charges of sexual assault and rape for crimes allegedly committed against their female passengers.

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