The Fort Worth Police Department announced Tuesday that it has launched a special operation in high-crime areas aimed at removing fraudulent Texas paper tags from the streets.
The announcement was made during a city council working session during which members questioned the police on what they were doing to solve the problem.
A series of NBC 5 reports recently revealed the massive scale of the black market, and some council members have taken notice.
“Of course everyone saw the NBC 5 report,” Pro Tem Mayor Gyna Bivens said.
Since the start of the FWPD special operation just three days ago, police say they have already arrested bad guys using fraudulent tags in an attempt to cover up other crimes.
In just eight hours of work over two days last weekend, police said they stopped 41 cars and those stops led to 16 arrests for other more serious crimes.
“They found weapons, they found drugs, criminal warrants. And now we’re going to be able to take those tags and work with our other partners to try to trace them back to the people who were actually producing those fake tags,” Fort Worth Chief Neil Noakes said.
Briefing the council on Tuesday, a deputy chief said the department had already focused on some local operations suspected of selling tags.
“We currently have three open investigations into three locations in our city that are illegally distributing and selling these labels,” Fort Worth Deputy Chief Pedro Criado said.
Earlier this week, an NBC 5 investigation showed how area police struggled to capture suspects using paper tags to conceal their identities as they robbed, smuggled drugs, committed violent crimes and were fleeing from the police.
Rogue dealers who sell tags for profit can enter false names and addresses into the state’s electronic tag system, creating phantom cars that are hard for police to track.
The United States Drug Enforcement Agency told NBC 5 that a major fentanyl smuggling ring dismantled in Fort Worth was using paper tags.
“Every vehicle that this particular organization used to move their drugs from point A to point B were temporary tags,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Eduardo Chavez.
Fort Worth police said their officers even saw people attempting to commit robberies and violent crimes attaching paper tags to their cars just before the incident.
“We have actually had some of our secret units, seen criminals committing or about to commit a crime, and they pull over and physically remove the hard tag from their vehicle and put on a temporary tag before commit the crime,” Criado said.
Mayor Pro Tem Bivens urged people to be on the lookout and report beacons that look suspicious.
“Anytime you see a paper tag, chances are it’s a driver who shouldn’t be on the road and knows that driver’s history,” Bivens said.
Council member Michael Crain urged the police to do all they can to resolve the issue. He noted that his constituents have been hit by cars with fraudulent labels that often have no insurance.
“These people are out of pocket for their franchise and everything when they did everything right,” Crain said.
The police assured the council that she was one of them.
“Rest assured that we will continue to fight the problem. We have this special operation which is still ongoing,” Criado said.
- February 13, 2022 – More funding needed to crack down on criminals using false paper Tags: Police
- February 10, 2022 – Police report drop in fraudulent labels, but Warn Crooks is adapting
- February 9, 2022 – Texas DMV shuts down six more dealers suspected of selling paper license tags
- February 7, 2022 – TxDMV director resigns amid paper tag mess
- January 27, 2022 – TxDMV Takes Urgent Action to Stop Scammers Selling Paper Labels
- January 21, 2022 – Dallas police operation targets fraudulent paper tags
- Jan 17, 2022 – Recording shows police tipped off TxDMV about paper tag security breach years ago
- December 16, 2021 – DMV Panel Recommends Fingerprinting Some Dealerships to Slow Paper Tag Fraud
- December 14, 2021 – Texas House Transportation president pledges to end paper tag fraud
- December 6, 2021 – Texas DMV boss deflects blame for paper tag debacle
- November 23, 2021 – Illegal Paper Tags Cost Texas Taxpayers and Toll Roads Millions
- November 10, 2021 – Suspected paper tag peddler shuts down Tuesday, reopens Wednesday: Investigators
- November 8, 2021 – How Texas Paper Tags Became a $200 Million Criminal Enterprise: NBC 5 Investigates