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Outgunning the Gun Runners

In the US, the number of gun-related fatalities rose to nearly 40,000 in 2017. Recent studies have estimated that as many as 80% of gun-related crimes are committed by someone other than the gun’s legal owner. With these statistics in mind, stemming the flow of guns from their legal purchasers to the street is vital to preserving public safety.

Let’s take a closer look at a case in which law enforcement officials, using Voyager Labs’ AI-driven technology for unstructured data analysis, analyzed billions of data points to unravel the mystery behind how a legally purchased gun became an illegally possessed murder weapon.

Gun trafficking  – a case study

In a large US city, a turf war resulted in a murder. Police arrested a suspect, and found in his possession a gun which matched shell casings recovered from the murder scene. The gun did not belong to the suspect; rather, it belonged to a man named Richard Gonzalez (pseudonym), who lived hundreds of miles away in a different state with far less restrictive gun laws. The suspect and Richard Gonzalez had no obvious relationship. How could police quickly and efficiently identify the path that this gun took from legal ownership to a crime scene?

Getting to know the key figures

Using Voyager Labs technology, police went to work. Analyzing the suspect’s digital footprint, investigators discovered that the suspect was affiliated with both his gang and, to a lesser extent, the rival gang of which the victim was a member. 

The next step was to identify the gun’s original owner. Police had a name – Richard Gonzalez – but they needed to know which of the many people with that name they were seeking, and also attempt to corroborate the suspect’s identification. Within minutes, analysts using the Voyager Labs system cross-referenced digital data to connect the dots and pinpoint the specific Richard Gonzalez they needed.

Unveiling hidden mediators

What happened next is where the use of Voyager Labs’ automated insights truly paid off. Police drew upon their previous knowledge of the main narratives surrounding the case, and applied the Voyager Labs insights as an augmented filter. Within minutes, police were able to narrow down, from an initial list of thousands and endless possibilities for connection, the 23 most likely potential mediators who were within three degrees of separation of both Richard Gonzalez and the suspect.

One of these potential mediators had extensive involvement with gun-related crimes. But further analysis using the system ruled him out as a suspect. Another potential mediator lived in the same town as Richard Gonzalez. But ultimately, evidence gleaned from unstructured data pointed to the actual mediator – a woman who had grown up in the suspect’s neighborhood and worked down the street from Richard Gonzalez’s home. Eager to preserve her clean criminal record, she fully cooperated with investigators, leading to the discovery of a much wider network of gun trafficking.

Within minutes, police were able to narrow down, from an initial list of thousands and endless possibilities for connection, the 23 most likely potential mediators who were within three degrees of separation of both Richard Gonzalez and the suspect.

The “Bionic Analyst”

By automatically identifying and then cutting through thousands of possible pathways, our platform enables investigators to focus on a limited number of suspects whose relevance can be easily confirmed. With this information in hand, investigators can extract the details needed to bust open a case and obtain an indictment. Armed with a combination of Voyager Labs’ advanced technology and their own invaluable expertise, law enforcement and national security departments can now fulfill their missions more effectively than ever.

To learn more about how Voyager Labs fights narcotics trafficking, click here.

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