ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) –  In this day and age everyone has a cell phone and almost everyone has at least one social media account. The Albuquerque Police Department is using that technology to solve more violent crime cases and say that its success is due to its new Digital Intelligence Team.

Earlier this month, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled social media evidence used in a trial is equivalent to DNA or other biological evidence.  APD says that’s already playing a role in solving homicide cases. 

Deputy Commander Kyle Hartsock with the Criminal Investigations Division explains, “What we’re also doing is, we have the ability to now exploit cell phones and get into these phones. And some of these older phones in older cases at the time weren’t able to get into, it’s easier now.”

Going through digital devices for criminal investigations can take a lot of time. That’s why APD created the Digital Intelligence Team. The DIT identifies digital evidence and analyzes it in expert forensic reports which can then be used in court. 

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This means law enforcement can use cell phones and social media as evidence. The DIT played a key role in solving a murder from last July – when 19-year-old Trevonte Robbins was shot and killed in downtown Albuquerque. 

The team also helped solve the 2019 murder of Deandre Garcia, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. They used new technology to unlock one of the suspect’s phones and tracked it to a west side apartment where Garcia was killed.

Right now, there are three members in the Digital Intelligence Team. APD Chief Harold Medina says he’s looking forward to seeing the team grow. “I’m happy to announce earlier this week, we were able to obtain the approval to utilize funding to hire four more individuals who are going to help expand this program.”

APD says drug deals have become a lot more prevalent on apps like Snapchat and Instagram and are a large part of the DIT’s investigations.

They are considering targeting those ads on those platforms to let dealers know that police are watching. The DIT not only helps with homicides but with robberies and other violent crimes as well.