Donna man accused of selling fake vehicle tags to undercover agent

The Texas Department of Public Safety arrested a 37-year-old Donna man Monday on allegations he sold an undercover agent fake temporary vehicle tags in February.

Juan Manuel Ramirez Jr. is charged with tampering with a government record.

The investigation into the fake tags began on Feb. 2 when an anonymous source told DPS that fraudulent tags were being sold out of a residence in the 5900 block of Via Rojo in Edinburg.

“Information further identified a small sign affixed to the surrounding wooden fence, indicating services provided to include title transfers, renewals, and vehicle permits signed by Fallon Cervantes,” a probable cause affidavit states.

According to DPS, Cervantes is married to Ramirez.

Jail and court records do not reflect any charges against Cervantes related to the allegations against Ramirez.

After receiving the information from the anonymous source, a DPS special agent says in the affidavit that they sent a text message to the contact number on the sign and received a response that said the temporary tags cost $45 apiece.

Shortly after the text, the DPS special agent, who was working in an undercover capacity, said Cervantes called the agent, who asked her whether it would be possible to obtain a temporary vehicle tag without providing a vehicle identification number, or VIN, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Cervantes said it could be done, DPS says.

From Feb. 5 to 11, Cervantes and the DPS agent coordinated the purchase of the fake tags, according to the affidavit.

“Cervantes agreed to create such temporary tags for a fee of fifty ($50.00) US dollars each,” the charging document states.

On Feb. 12, several DPS agents arrived to meet Cervantes in the parking lot of the Walmart Super Center at 2812 South Expressway 281 in Edinburg, authorities say.

The undercover DPS agent says they waited in the parking lot for Cervantes and confirmed the information on the fraudulent tags.

“Affiant observed the Chevrolet to be occupied by a male driver and female passenger, at which Affiant received a text message stating ‘parked near you’, to which Affiant responded ‘jump in just you’, in an effort to positively identify Cervantes,” the probable cause affidavit states.

Instead, DPS alleges Ramirez got into the vehicle.

“Affiant asked for Cervantes, and Ramirez identified Cervantes as Ramirez’ wife. Ramirez asked Affiant to verify if everything was correct on the temporary tags. Affiant paid Ramirez one hundred ($100.00) US dollars for both tags,” the affidavit states.

Ramirez bailed out of county jail on a $2,500 personal recognizance bond the same day he was arrested, records show.