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3 cited, released for impersonating police officers, making traffic stops
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Three teenagers – two from Stockton and one from Manteca – were arrested Tuesday night for impersonating police officers in traffic stops.

Alex Chavez and Gregorio Martinez, both 18 of Stockton, were arrested along with John Meza, 19, of Manteca in Meza’s 1983 Buick Sentra after they allegedly used flashing red and blue strobe lights to pull motorists over to the curb.  The lights were later recovered from the vehicle with a property storage sticker from the State of California.

The three were charged with false imprisonment for the traffic stops, conspiracy and impersonating a police officer.  The trio apparently made a mistake in stopping the daughter of a sheriff’s deputy at about 7 p.m. on Roth Road north of Manteca. The charges are all felonies but due to the jail overcrowding the three were cited and released.

The Manteca Police dispatcher received a call from the Sheriff’s Department of the stop alerting patrol officers on the street.  Another call came in about 9 p.m. from the 400 block of Gold Street from a resident who said they were pulled over by a car with flashing red and blue lights with three occupants.  The driver of the car asked for the man’s identification, gave it back, returned to his car and drove off.

Some 20 minutes later Manteca Officer George Crowley located the vehicle and arrested the three teens driving the 1989 pink Buick Sentra.  The trio was taken to the city jail where they were booked and photographed and given citations to go to court at a later date to answer to their charges.

Manteca Police spokesman Rex Osborn said this is a very rare happening in Manteca.  

“If in doubt it is a regular police officer, slow down and put your flashers on.  Depending on where you are – if on the freeway – exit the highway and go to a public area or call 911 and tell the dispatcher what is happening and they will send another officer,” he said.

Osborn added that if the driver of an unmarked car attempts to pull a motorist over in Manteca and they don’t respond there will be a backup car coming to the scene.   

“Go to a fire station, gas station or any other public place – never pull over on the highway if you don’t think it’s real,” he added.

Osborn recalled a red light stop in Stanislaus County a number of years ago where the motorist was ordered to go to a bank in Ripon and pay a fine with a withdrawal from his ATM machine.

In Tuesday’s case, while the three were cited and released, their car was impounded to be released only to a licensed driver.