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Red Tape


19 (63rd Overall)
March 13, 1987
Repeat Airdate
December 11, 1987
TV Rating
TV-14 L-V
Guest Stars
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"Red Tape" is the nineteenth episode of Miami Vice's third season. It premiered on March 13, 1987, and was rerun on December 11, 1987.


Tubbs goes to extreme lengths to root out the source of a leak in the department.


Crockett and Tubbs meet with South Dade Vice cops Bobby Diaz and his partner Eddie Trumbull, two young, ambitious cops planning on getting their gold Sergeant's shields next month, to locate a nickel-and-dime thief who may have witnessed a shooting. Tubbs goes with them and when Trumbull busts the door down it turns out to be a trap -- the room explodes, badly injuring him and scraping up Diaz and Tubbs.

Crockett is giving a statement to Metro when Vic Varnell of SID stops by to interview Diaz and Tubbs, but Diaz's injuries are serious enough to warrant a trip to the hospital. Tubbs, who still has Trumbull's blood on his shirt, is angry about a recent rash of booby-trapped drug busts in the area and the fact that someone is leaking information about the department's search warrants. Crockett attempts to calm things down, but Tubbs' anger escalates to the point he blows off SID, and refuses to work until the leak is found. Castillo orders him to file his report and pick up his new assignment or be suspended. Tubbs angrily throwns down his badge and quits. As he's leaving an officer comes in to tell them Trumbull did not survive surgery.

Tubbs goes to the credit union to withdraw his money, becomes violent when his request is refused, and is brought down to Metro. Castillo is speaking with Diaz at the hospital when Metro police notifies Castillo of Tubbs' arrest. Castillo asks them to have Crockett go over, then reassures Diaz the best thing he can do is to maintain the good reputation he and his partner had, and leave finding Trumbull's killer to them. Meanwhile SID officer Glenn McIntyre, who was at the booby-trap scene, calls Justice Department employee (and girlfriend) Vicky to get info on Tubbs, saying that a one-shot opportunity has opened up. Crockett sees Tubbs, who coldly says they're not partners; he's out, and if the department doesn't give him what he is owed, he'll get it off the street before heading back to New York. Crockett warns him about dealing with loan sharks, but Tubbs ignores him and walks out.

Switek sees Tubbs at OCB gathering files up; he mentions how bad he wanted out after Zito was killed but stayed, and offers his help. Tubbs coldly declines and leaves, upsetting Switek. Tubbs is unsuccessful in getting a loan from a bartender when McIntyre walks in to discuss the earlier events, and makes an unspecified offer. Tubbs rebuffs him and leaves; McIntyre, disappointed, leaves as well but Tubbs pulls him into an alley and demands details at gunpoint. McIntyre tells him about the scam he has going and Tubbs' end if he's interested--a good chunk of change for providing police files, with a premium for Vice files.

At OCB, Castillo orders all personnel not to speak to the press while the internal leak investigation is ongoing, nor to speak about the leak itself, and assigns DEA agent Ayres to fill Tubbs' slot (his status is suspension pending dismissal). McIntyre meets with Onofrio Avila who allows McIntyre and Tubbs to "name their price" in exchange for all files on him - so long as he gets to meet Tubbs in person. Tubbs provides search warrant info as requested, but McIntyre says its not enough, and Tubbs arranges to get the entire file. Vicky and McIntyre spend time together and he lets her in on his plan; he compares his frustration at making peanuts as a cop with Tubbs' indifferent treatment after the bombing. He is confident the deal with Avila will make them all the money they'll ever need. Vicky has doubts (especially about the cop killings) but is lured by the promise of her boyfriend's get-rich-quick scheme.

That night Diaz is working on reports, unable to concentrate, while Tubbs is in the records room stealing Avila's file. Diaz happens to pass by and asks Tubbs what he plans to do now. Tubbs becomes belligerent, saying that he was working the toughest cases in New York when Diaz was buying corsages for the prom; Diaz is enraged that Tubbs would up and quit instead of fight, and Tubbs storms out after they nearly come to blows. Tubbs calls McIntyre and lets him know what he has, including a tip that Vice plans to hit Avila's warehouse the next day. McIntyre will arrange for his money the next morning, with a bonus for the hit info. Avila and McIntyre observe the hit; when they bust open the door Ayres is floored by a blast from a rigged-up shotgun. Avila is satisfied and agrees to meet with Tubbs.

They rush Ayres to the hospital, but in the ambulance the EMTs are revealed to be Gina and Trudy, and Ayres was saved by a vest; the gun was loaded with blanks switched out by the bomb squad, and the whole operation is a ruse set up by Castillo and Tubbs to flush out the leak. Tubbs has signed a warrant for McIntyre and they're waiting for the source to inform McIntyre so they can get to the bottom of the leak. With Diaz following him (not in on the ruse), Tubbs gets a call from McIntyre at a payphone, informing him that the meeting is moved up to the afternoon, and to cancel any pending appointments.

Asst. State Attorney Kaplan arrives at OCB with the wiretap authorization, and Ayres has time to set up his backup team, but Castillo orders no movement on McIntyre unless they find his source or witness/hear any exchange of information; otherwise, they will have to cop a plea to get McIntyre to reveal his source. Kaplan is concerned about McIntyre's warrant being out there and leaving Tubbs hung out to dry. Castillo says Tubbs knew the risks, and is contacted by Tubbs about the updated meet. Kaplan wants Tubbs to bust McIntyre now, but if they do the leak will remain hidden; Kaplan insists again that if Tubbs' warrant is found by McIntyre before backup arrives, Tubbs is a dead man. Castillo lets Tubbs handle it however he wants--but has Switek send Crockett over to the payphone ASAP. As Kaplan feared, Vicky sees the warrant and calls McIntyre before Crockett can get there, blowing Tubbs' cover.

The squad tracks down and busts Vicky, who refuses to cooperate. They haven't the time or the means to track down Tubbs and McIntyre. Diaz, on the other hand, has followed them to the marina, where Avila's boat is waiting, and calls Crockett; believing that Tubbs and McIntyre are working together, he tells Crockett to "come get the bodies". Crockett speeds over while Avila's goons take Tubbs toward the boat. Diaz rushes in and starts firing; Tubbs leaps into a boat as Diaz shoots one of Avila's men and Crockett shoots the other, but McIntyre shoots and mortally wounds Diaz. Backup arrives and surrounds Avila, who surrenders, and McIntyre, who chooses to shoot himself instead. Tubbs tries to explain himself to Diaz, who curses Tubbs with his last breath.

"For you and Eddie."

Castillo gives Tubbs his badge back and lets him take off as much time as needed. Tubbs places his badge on Diaz's body, "for you and Eddie." Tubbs feels he is losing sight of what he's fighting to protect, thinking that Diaz didn't hear him say he wasn't dirty. Crockett tells him to believe that Diaz did hear, and reminds him of what counts - despite the cost, they won this time.


Guest Stars



  • This is the second time Tubbs has lost a coin flip to Crockett, the first time being in "Milk Run."
  • This is another episode that deals with departmental leaks, a recurring theme in the series.
  • The scene where Switek discusses his feelings after Zito's death is one of the only times Zito is mentioned after he left the show in "Down for the Count (Part II)". His passing would be mentioned again in "A Bullet for Crockett", which also included flashback footage of his death.
  • The instrumental rock track briefly heard over the radio in Diaz's car when he is spying on Tubbs is not an outside piece of popular music, but rather an untitled Jan Hammer composition written for the scene. This kind of "fake" song would become more prevalent in season 5, when the show's new composer Tim Truman would compose several such pieces for use in various episodes.
  • Cell triangulation technology is much more sophisticated now than it was in 1987, since the number of cell phones was far fewer and the technology to track them was not yet invented.
  • Lou Diamond Phillips and Viggo Mortensen would star in 1990's Young Guns II. Phillips would also star with Edward James Olmos in 1988's Stand and Deliver, while Mortensen was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar in 2007 for his role in Eastern Promises.
  • For some reason, many sources of information regarding music in Miami Vice list David Bowie's 1983 recording of "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)" as being used in the opening scene where Tubbs, Diaz and Trumbull go into the booby-trapped building. The song actually used in that scene is "Best Adventures" by Thinkman. The reason for the confusion is unclear, as the two songs are utterly different.
  • This is the third Tubbs-centric episode in which, at the climax, Tubbs has to confront the bad guys unarmed and must rely on backup (mainly Crockett and, inadvertently, Diaz) when the shooting starts.
  • This is one of a number of episodes in which a guest character commits suicide right in front of Crockett.
  • This is one of several episodes that does not end on a freeze frame.


  • When Tubbs is arguing with the clerk in the Metro Credit Union office, the amount of blood around the collar of his shirt has substantially decreased from the preceding scene. There is still some blood there, so clearly he has not changed shirts, but somehow most of it has vanished.

Production Notes

  • Filmed: January 16, 1987 - January 26, 1987
  • Production Code: 62029
  • Production Order: 64

Filming Locations

  • 227 1st Street, Miami Beach (Crockett/Tubbs park the Testarossa to meet Diaz/Trumbull in opening scene)
  • Nemo Hotel (now Prime Fish), 100 Collins Ave, Miami Beach (Tubbs/Diaz/Trumbull encounter booby-trapped room)
  • Courvoisier Centre, 501 / 601 Brickell Key Drive, Miami (Castillo/Diaz talk after explosion, later Vicky's office)
  • 400 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami (Metro-Dade Police Building exterior shots)
  • Club Ovo, 1450 Collins Ave, Miami Beach (Tubbs/McIntyre meet in club)
  • Miami Shores Presbyterian Church, NE 96th Str/Park Dr, Miami Shores (Tubbs/McIntyre car scene)
  • Nuta’s Boat Yard (now Hurricane Cove Marina & Boat Yard), 1884 NW North River Drive, Miami (Ayres/Crockett encounter booby trapped marina door)
  • Gerry Curtis Park, NW 16th Terrace and NW River Drive on Miami River (Diaz calls Crockett and rushes to the marina)
  • Dania Beach Marina, 101 North Beach Rd, Dania Beach (final scene and shootout where Diaz and McIntyre are killed)



  • "Do you remember when the "cops of the month" didn't look like extras from Jane Fonda's Workout? -- Crockett to Diaz
  • "They would have been on this like white on rice in New York...they would never had let the leak get this far!" -- Tubbs
  • "Well, I'll do you one better. I'd rather be playing the lottery in New York than Russian Roulette in Miami... I QUIT!" -- Tubbs to Castillo
  • "So, this is your display case? I WANT MY DAMN MONEY, AND I WANT IT NOW!!!" -- Tubbs after the credit union refuses to allow him to get his money out
  • "Let me tell you something pal, If you start dealing with loan sharks, Castillo will do more than just suspend you!" -- Crockett to Tubbs
  • "Call it anything you like. I've been shot, and let down one too many times. The last thing I need is some punk COP in my face! Yeah, punk. --Tubbs telling off Diaz for calling him a coward
Season 3 Episodes:

"When Irish Eyes Are Crying" "Stone's War" "Killshot" "Walk-Alone" "The Good Collar" "Shadow in the Dark" "El Viejo" "Better Living Through Chemistry" "Baby Blues" "Streetwise" "Forgive Us Our Debts" "Down for the Count (Part I)" "Down for the Count (Part II)" "Cuba Libre" "Duty and Honor" "Theresa" "The Afternoon Plane" "Lend Me an Ear" "Red Tape" "By Hooker by Crook" "Knock, Knock... Who's There?" "Viking Bikers from Hell" "Everybody's in Showbiz" "Heroes of the Revolution"