GTA Online: How To Start Operation Paper Trail


Fans of Grand Theft Auto Online would likely have fun building their criminal enterprises from scratch, especially with the many ways of earning money that range from heists to doing various activities. However, fans of Grand Theft Auto Online who want something with a more narrative spin may enjoy its various missions, especially Operation Paper Trail.

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Of missions in GTA Online, it’s Operation Paper Trail that gives players a rather “Mission Impossible” spin on available quests. In Operation Paper Trail, players are recruited by the IAA in a bid to stop the global manipulation of oil prices, with the mastermind somehow just lurking about in the city. However, how can players start Operation Paper Trail?


Enter The International Affairs Agency

Before fans start Operation Paper Trail, they may want to know a bit more context as to the elements involved in the bigger picture. Unlike other missions that often involve players interact with unsavory elements in Los Santos, Operation Paper Trail will have papers interact with the International Affairs Agency, via the United Liberty Paper contact (ULP) named Bernard.

A recurring character throughout the series, Agent ULP works for the United Liberty Paper Merchants, a front of the IAA in Liberty City, who has since been involved with investigating criminal elements throughout the Grand Theoft Auto games. The IAA is the equivalent of both of the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Intelligence Agency, where they investigate various anomalous incidents that are usually tied to criminal activities.

What Is Operation Paper Trail?

Players in Operation Paper Trail

Throughout the course of GTA Online, it seems the IAA has caught wind of irregularities involved with soaring gas prices, and in particular with how money has been travelling across the market. Thanks to the help fo players, who Agent ULP will transform into sworn-in IAA agents, they will be able to uncover just whether or not the Duggans and their status as petrochemical magnates have at some point profited illegally from gas prices. Unfortunately, players will also be dragged into something much bigger than they have anticipated.

Beginning Operation Paper Trail

The Criminal Enterprises DLC

Players actually have two (2) main methods of starting Operation Paper Trail. They need to have “The Criminal Enterprises” update in order for the starting parts of the mission to pop up in the game, alongside the addition of new criminal activities in GTA Online. The main method is to visit the IAA Headquarters (marked by a yellow “U” on the corner of Swiss and Power Streets) for the first time, which prompts a call from Agent ULP.

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Alternatively, players will also get a call from Agent ULP after finishing the Doomsday Heist and becoming Facility Owners. Unlike the original message, the one received here will be a bit more personalized. However, the general gist of the messages are the same: as civilians, players aren’t allowed to be “in” on the intel. However, Agent ULP has on good authority that players can become reliable agents for them.

Operation Paper Trail: The Missions

Agent ULP

While players of GTA Online might be curious about Operation Paper Trail and simply want to know how to start it, they may as well start getting all the knowledge they know about the mission line. That’s because players who initiate contact with Agent ULP for the first time will likely begin with the first mission immediately. Having an inkling of what the rest of the missions will entail can give players a headstart in terms of both preparation and how to fit Operation Paper Trail with the rest of their missions in the game.

Part One – ULP: Intelligence

Part 1 - ULP Intelligence

First in the Operation Paper Trail missions series is ULP: Intelligence. The mission officially begins with a cutscene of Agent ULP telling players that they are now field agents of the IAA, with a sworn-in that “enables” players to “lie” to the American public whenever strategically necessary. The first part of the mission begins when players have to visit San Andreas Avenue due to an “old-fashioned conspiracy” involving higher gas prices attributed to the Duggan Crime Family, where Mason Duggan has a residence in the apartment. Once there, they have to hack Mason’s laptop, after which a mini-game reveals the location of two (2) collection points, which players can pursue in any order.

  • If players choose the FIB HQ marker, they can grab an Alta Construction Site maintenance outfit on two (2) Burrito vans with the rear doors open. Wearing them can avoid any alerts from the inside, provided players remain inside the area and don’t have a weapon equipped. Players have to find a tablet and a small data storage device in this area.
  • If players head to the FIB Depot, they first need to destroy two (2) fuse boxes on the depot’s exterior to deal with the built-in security system. They can find them by checking for fuse boxes with a red arrow icon. Once inside, players need to find an external hard drive and VR headset scattered in the dark warehouse.

After collecting this hardware, players need to go to a drop-off point near the LSIA warehouse. Players know they’re in the right location once they find an Unmarked Cruiser with two (2) LSIA agents waiting, who will congratulate them.

Part Two – ULP: Counterintelligence

Part 2 - ULP Counterintelligence

Second in the Operation Paper Trail missions series is ULP: Counterintelligence. This begins once ULP calls the player regarding what they’ve found from the stolen hardware, which is confirmation that the Duggans are indeed behind the conspiracy to raise gas prices in the city. However, the nature of the technology the Duggans are using is still being studied. Since the FIB has been alerted of the player’s activities, they need to determine how much intelligence they use to fight the player – hence the mission’s name. Players need to do this in order to complete the mission:

  1. Players need to hack surveillance drones the FIB has deployed to monitor them. They can be found near El Burro Heights and La Mesa, and hacking them is possible through the SecuroServ app.
  2. After the hack, players can pinpoint the FIB’s base of operations in a motel in the city. When reaching this motel room, players won’t find anyone or even GTA Online weapons inside. When players give the ULP access to their computer data, they realize the FIB has set up a sting. The player loses unconsciously soon after.
  3. Players soon wake up in the back of a Youga Classic 4×4 near the Cypress Flats, surrounded by both the FIB and LSPD officers. They’re told the FIB has set up a bomb inside the van to kill them, staging the false flag as a failed IAA operation. To defuse the bomb, players engage in a minigame.
  4. The last part of the mission involves players evading law enforcement and bringing the van to a safehouse outside Sandy Shores.

Part 3 - ULP Extraction

Third in the Operation Paper Trail missions series is ULP: Extraction. This begins once ULP calls the player and tells them how the FIB has been kept off their tail after the previous mission, but more pressing matters are at hand. The players will then be briefed on how one of their agents has infiltrated the Duggan organization undercover and hasn’t checked in for the past 24 hours. Since players are at this point considered a senior field operative, it’s now their job to bring this agent back. These are the tasks involved in the mission:

  1. Players need to check a garage at Hawick to see any clues regarding the whereabouts of Agent Johnson. They can also use the Primo Custom to check the data via the GPS.
  2. After exiting the garage, players can try three (3) locations to find Agent Jonhson successfully. Players know they’re in the right location once a shootout between the Los Santos County Sheriff, the Duggans, and cartel members welcome them in the GTA Online scene. After dealing with the shootout, players need to search for Agent Johnson, who was taking cover.
  3. Once found, players must protect Agent Johnson while lowering their Wanted Level. On the way, she reveals that Duggans are placing next-gen software to manipulate gas prices and dealings with various entities. She also warns players that the Duggans already have most of the software they need.
  4. The mission is completed after bringing Agent Johnson to the hospital.

Part Four – ULP: Asset Seizure

Part 4 - Asset Seizure

Fourth in the Operation Paper Trail missions series is ULP: Asset Seizure. Now that ULP knows what’s up with the Duggan family’s “secret fortune,” they’ve called the player to inform their newest discovery. In actuality, the Duggan is using some AI program in order to manipulate the global oil market to their advantage. Due to recent activities, the Duggans are afraid people may discover what they’ve been doing and aims to move their technology to somewhere more secure, and this is something players have to intercept. To do this, players need to do the following:

  1. Players need to go to a search area and locate a van with the hardware. During their search, players will be notified of some signal jamming in the area, which they have to deal with first.
  2. After dealing with the first series of jammers, players are told there are five (5) more on top of various buildings, alongside Duggan members guarding them. While destroying each jammer isn’t mandatory, doing so will lessen the search area players need to explore when looking for the van.

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  1. Destroying all jammers will locate the van squarely on the map, which players must steal and bring to a drop-off point. This point is a house in Great Chaparral, not too far from Hill Valley Church. They must do this while fending off pursuit from Duggan reinforcements and a turret.
  2. The mission ends when players safely deliver the van to the location, and two (2) IAA agents meet them with a nearby Unmarked Cruiser.

Part Five – ULP: Operation Paper Trail

Part 5 - Operation Paper Trail

Fifth in the Operation Paper Trail missions series is its namesake, ULP: Operation Paper Trail. The GTA Online mission officially begins when the ULP tells player how their teams have gone through the stolen hardware and have discovered something dire. It seems there’s a part of the AI system – Cliffford – that is backed up in drives located in the FIB. The Duggans are also going on a deal to acquire the said backups, which players need to stop. Here are the steps players need to do to accomplish the mission:

  1. Players need to go to the Mile High Club and use drones to look around the area. The mission progresses once the drones see Mason Duggan and the FIB negotiating a deal involving a briefcase.
  2. After this, players must take out Duggan security guards in the area and avoid the FIB drones patrolling the area so the FIB and Duggan’s team aren’t alerted. Players must get an elevator keycard from a Duggan guard and head to an orange elevator.
  3. Step 2 is repeated across various floors, where they have to acquire keycards from Duggan guards to ride elevators until they reach the top floor.
  4. As players go to the rooftop, they see Mason already trying to flee via a helicopter. Players need to stop this by damaging the helicopter enough that it’s forced to land at the Maibatsu Factory in La Mesa.
  5. Players need to chase Mason Duggan to the warehouse while avoiding being killed by pursuing GTA Online reinforcements. After Mason is killed, they need to take his briefcase and go to a drop-off location at the western end of Elysian Island. As with other missions, two (2) IAA Agents and an Unmarked Cruiser will be waiting for players.

Interestingly enough, fans of GTA Online may already be familiar with Cliffford. They may remember this AI as the same AI players have to deal with in “The Doomsday Heist,” with Cliffford being a sophisticated neural network based on the megalomaniac Avon Hertz.

Part Six – ULP: Cleanup

Part 6 - ULP Cleanup

Sixth and last part in the Operation Paper Trail missions series is ULP: Cleanup. After the dealings with Duggans have officially removed them from the global oil scene, ULP will call the player to instruct them to do one final thing to ensure none of this happens again. This involves stealing the remains of the AI Cliffford and end things with it permanently. To do so, players need to do the following:

  1. Players need to go to Avon Hertz’s missile silo, with which an IAA Helicopter is used in this mission. On the way, ULP tells players that the silo has been shut down after Avon’s death, so players need to reactivate power in the facility. Upon arriving at the missile silo, they’re instructed through the emergency personnel hatch.
  2. Upon descent, players realize the area is dark and have to procure a Flashlight. Once the area is more visible, they need to find the control room and initiate a manual override to restore power.
  3. While players do find the manual override module, they realize that the fuses have been blown off in the decommissioning process. Players roam around to find extra fuses, while ULP tells them that the Juggernaut AI machines in the area have simply been shut down as they’re too costly to destroy.
  4. After the power has been restored, players must go back to the server room to overwrite the data via their SecuroServ app. This creates one last copy of Cliffford data on the player’s phone.
  5. Unfortunately, this activity will have ULP notice weird readings on their remote monitoring systems and a loud alarm triggered by a failsafe mechanism. Now, all the Juggernauts have been reawakened with a “search and destroy” program, forcing them to attack players. Players need to continue overwriting the other servers while dealing with the Juggernaut threat.
  6. After securing the servers, players need to exit the facility via the elevator in the silo. Once outside, they’ll notice their IAA Helicopter destroyed while an enemy Annihilator Stealth is nearby. They need to destroy this as well.
  7. Players are instructed to go to the IAA Satellite Relay Station using a GTA Online vehicle, all the while evading reinforcements in the form of mercenaries and vehicles who want to steal the Cliffford data from players.
  8. The pursuit stops once players get to the Station, with an IAA Agent with a Greenwood will be waiting for them.

After giving the agent the phone with the data, the mission series will finally be completed.

Grand Theft Auto Online is playable on the PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S.

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