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 Albuquerque metro area that could help solve more crimes. The National Integrated Ballistic Information Mobile Unit (NIBIN) is a system that can be used by law enforcement to search for specific marks on casings left after shots fired.

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

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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 to casings in one of the shootings, which ultimately led to the arrest of Solomon Pena. NIBIN also helped officials solve the Albuquerque murders of three Muslim men in 2022.

New Mexico currently has three NIBIN units; two are with the APD and one 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 encourages agencies in Albuquerque and surrounding areas to bring the casings for analysis. Medina says: “We want to be the center where the casings come from in the metropolitan area. We intend to continue working with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department; we want to contact the sheriff’s department of sandoval county, valencia. We want to make sure that all of our tribal partners have a place to bring their casings. One thing I learned while working at the Pueblo de Laguna is that criminals from the metropolitan area too often end up in the surrounding communities.

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