The Fort Worth Police Department said Tuesday it has launched a special operation in high crime areas aimed at taking fraudulent Texas paper tags off the streets.
The announcement came at a city council work session where members quizzed police about what they are doing to tackle the problem.
A series of reports from NBC 5 Investigates recently exposed the massive scale of the black market, and some council members have taken notice.
“Of course, everyone has seen the NBC 5 news report,” said Mayor Pro Tem Gyna Bivens.
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Paper Tag Nation
Since the FWPD special operation began just three days ago, police said they have already busted bad guys using fraudulent tags in an effort to conceal other crimes.
In just eight hours of work spread over two days last weekend police said they stopped 41 cars and those stops lead to 16 arrests for other more serious crimes.
“They found weapons, they found drugs, people felony warrants. And now we're going to be able to take those tags and work with our other partners to try to track those back to the people who were actually producing those fake tags,” said Fort Worth Chief Neil Noakes.
Briefing the council Tuesday, a deputy chief said the department has already zeroed in on some local operations believed to be selling tags.
“We currently have three open investigations on three locations in our city that are distributing and selling these tags illegally,” said Fort Worth Deputy Chief Pedro Criado.
Earlier this week, an NBC 5 investigation showed how police across the area are struggling to capture suspects using paper tags to conceal their identities as they steal, smuggle drugs, commit violent crimes and run from police.
The rogue dealers who sell tags for profit can enter false names and addresses into the state's electronic tag system, creating ghost cars, which are difficult for police to track.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency told NBC 5 Investigates a major fentanyl smuggling ring busted in Fort Worth used paper tags.
“Every single vehicle that this particular organization was using to move their drugs from point A to point B were temp tags,” said Eduardo Chavez, DEA Special Agent in Charge.
Fort Worth Police said their officers have even seen people attempting to commit robberies and violent crimes, attach paper tags to their car just prior to the incident.
“We've actually had some of our covert units, witness some criminals in the process or about to commit a crime, and they pull over and physically take the hard tag the aluminum tag off their vehicle and put a temp tag prior to committing the crime,” Criado said.
Mayor Pro Tem Bivens urged people to be on the lookout and report tags that seem suspect.
“Whenever you see a paper tag, there is a good chance that that's a driver who should not be on the road and who knows what history that driver has,” Bivens said.
Council Member Michael Crain urged police to do everything they can to tackle the problem. He noted his constituents have been hit by cars with fraudulent tags which often have no insurance.
“Those people are out of pocket for their deductible and everything else when they have been doing everything right”, Crain said.
Police assured the council they are on it.
“Rest assured that we're going to continue combating the issue. We have this special operation is still going on”, Criado said.
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- May 24, 2023 - Bill to Eliminate Paper License Plates in Texas Passes Texas Senate
- March 27, 2023 - Texas DMV's New Paper Tag Design Easily Counterfeited, Police Say
- Nov. 17, 2022 - Texas DMV Redesigns Paper License Tags to Include New Security Features
- Nov. 15, 2022 - Police Searching for Paper Tagged 'Ghost Car' in Deadly Grand Prairie Chase
- June 1, 2022 - Police Make Bogus Tag Bust Tied to Social Media Ads
- May 18, 2022 - TxDMV Names New Executive Director Amid Paper Tag Crisis
- May 17, 2022 - Vehicle Used in Dallas Salon Shooting Had Paper Tag
- May 12, 2022 - Ads for Fake Tags Persist, Despite Facebook, TxDMV Efforts
- May 4, 2022 - Texas' Paper Tag Problem Compounded by Small Dealers Misusing Them
- May 3, 2022 - Dallas Police Shut Down Accused Fake Paper Tag Dealer
- April 26, 2022 - Texas House Set to Hold Paper Tag Hearings
- April 14, 2022 - Texas DMV Cracks Down on Dealers Selling Temporary Paper Tags
- April 13, 2022 - TxDMV Closes Inspection Loophole That Put Unsafe Cars on Roads
- April 12, 2022 - Dallas Police Go Undercover to Fight Illegal Paper Tags
- April 7, 2022 - Police Warn of Fake Paper Tags Used to Cheat Car Buyers
- April 5, 2022 - Texas Senate Will Investigate Illegal Paper Tag Crimes, Smuggling
- March 9, 2022 - Texas Paper Tag Crime Danger Extends Nationwide
- March 5, 2022 - Texas House Will Hold Hearings on Paper Tag Mess
- Feb. 28, 2022 - License to Smuggle: Drug Cartels and Human Smugglers Use Paper Texas Tags to Evade
- Feb. 15, 2022 - Fort Worth Police Announce Special Operation Targeting Paper Tags
- Feb. 14, 2022 -- Crash Victim's Parents Want More Cops to Police Paper Tag Fraud
- Feb. 13, 2022 - More Funding Need to Fight Criminals Using Bogus Paper Tags: Police
- Feb. 10, 2022 - Police Report Drop in Fraudulent Tags But Warn Crooks Are Adapting
- Feb. 9, 2022 - Texas DMV Shuts Down Six More Dealers Suspected of Selling Paper License Tags
- Feb. 7, 2022 - TxDMV Director Resigns Amidst Paper Tag Mess
- Jan. 27, 2022 - TxDMV Takes Emergency Action to Keep Crooks From Selling Paper Tags
- Jan. 21, 2022 - Dallas Police Operation Targets Fraudulent Paper Tags
- Jan. 17, 2022 - Recording Shows Police Warned TxDMV of Paper Tag Security Flaw Years Ago
- Dec. 16, 2021 - DMV Committee Recommends Fingerprinting Some Dealers to Slow Paper Tag Fraud
- Dec. 14, 2021 - Texas House Transportation Chair Vows to Stop Paper Tag Fraud
- Dec. 6, 2021 - Texas DMV Boss Deflects Blame for Paper Tag Debacle
- Nov. 23, 2021 - Illegal Paper Tags Costing Texas Taxpayers and Toll Roads Millions
- Nov. 10, 2021 - Suspected Paper Tag Peddler Shut Down Tuesday, Reopens Wednesday: Investigators
- Nov. 8, 2021 - How Texas Paper Tags Became a $200M Criminal Enterprise: NBC 5 Investigates