In a joint operation with police, law enforcement officials with the Shanghai's transport commission have raided 14 sites where fake taxi certificates and invoices were being made. Police arrested 26 suspects.
It was the first time the commission and police had joined forces to crack down on the illegal "cloned cab" business. Cloned cabs are modified from scrapped vehicles and disguised to look like normal taxis.
After a three-month investigation, the spotlight fell on three suspects surnamed Zhu, Zhang and Hou. Following their trail, a gang providing a service to illegal taxi drivers that included modifying cars and providing fake certificates was identified. Members of the gang were distributed across the city.
Around 5:30am on January 24, more than 100 officers in Minhang, Jiading, Songjiang, Hongkou, Jing'an, Baoshan districts and the Pudong New Area paid a surprise visit to the gang's dens.
There they found a large number of fake taxi beacons, taximeters, invoices, car plates and certificates. The gang had a clear division of work, according to law enforcement officers. Some sought out scrapped taxis, some made fake IDs and certificates while others handled sales.
It is difficult to track cloned cabs because they use fake plates. "We busted two drivers on January 22 who shared the same cloned cab and found they had 12 different plates," said the transport commission's Chen Xiaochen. "They frequently change plates to dodge our inspections."
Chen added: "Cloned cabs have become a thorn in the throat of the city. It damages the image of Shanghai and we have been striving to cast all of them out."
Officers also seized 13 cloned cabs around the city at the same time as the raids. "During our investigation, we found some 40 drivers kept in close touch with the gang," said Chen. "We will keep tracking them down and make sure none get away with it."
The cars seized will be destroyed.
The investigation is continuing. Drivers found to be using cloned cabs will be fined and have their driving licenses seized.