How does NIBIN help solve crimes in New Mexico?

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has brought a new mobile unit to the greater Albuquerque area that may help solve more crimes. The mobile National Integrated Ballistics Information (NIBIN) unit is a system that can be used by law enforcement to look for specific markings on cartridge cases left after firing.

The cases are placed in a NIBIN system that creates images of the case from different angles with different lighting. The images are sent to an ATF analyst who compares them to images of casings collected elsewhere. Law enforcement agencies can use these unique markers to match a weapon to a crime or series of crimes during an investigation. The markings on cartridge cases act as individual “fingerprints” that can help match each case to the exact weapon from which the bullet was fired. The analyst works to determine if there is a connection.

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The Albuquerque Police Department used the system to find the criminal who shot at the homes of elected leaders earlier this year. Detectives were able to match a gun used by Jose Trujillo with cases in one of the shootings, eventually leading to the arrest of Solomon Pena. NIBIN also helped officials solve the 2022 murders of three Muslim men in Albuquerque.

New Mexico currently has three NIBIN units; two are with APD and one is with the New Mexico State Police in Santa Fe. The mobile unit will be in Albuquerque for 60 days and is one of only four mobile units in the county.

APD chief Harold Medina is encouraging authorities in Albuquerque and surrounding areas to bring in the shell casings for analysis. Medina says: “We want to be the center where shell casings come from in the metropolitan area. We intend to continue working with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department; We would like to contact the Sandoval, Valencia County Sheriff’s Departments. We want to make sure that all of our tribal partners have a place to bring their shell casings. One thing I learned working in the Laguna pueblo is that all too often, the criminals from the metro area end up in the surrounding communities.”


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