Connecting Dots, Providing Investigative Leads:
Utah Gun Intelligence Center, NIBIN Network Giving Utah Cops Real-Time Help In Reducing Violent Crime
SALT LAKE CITY – In June, law enforcement officials in Utah announced the formation of the Crime Gun Intelligence Center (GCIC) in Utah that brings together cutting-edge technologies and local, state, and federal law enforcement resources to give law enforcement officers real-time data and investigative leads to aid in solving and preventing violent crimes involving firearms.
Utilizing tools like the ATF National Tracing Center and ATF’s National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN), law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and forensics experts are focusing on the “trigger pullers” in Utah and other violent criminals. The goal of the CGIC is to connect the dots and provide actionable investigative leads in a real-time manner that will result in the arrest of suspects before they can commit additional shootings or other violence crimes.
How is the new initiative working?
A recently unsealed federal case, which started with an individual firing multiple shots from his vehicle at a residence in South Salt Lake City, offers a graphic example of the important role the NIBIN network and the CGIC are playing in piecing together a trail of violent crime that touched at least two Utah neighborhoods.
A criminal complaint filed Aug.15, 2018, charges Rory Curtis Cordova, aka “Joker,” age 50, of Ogden, with two counts of possessing a firearm following a felony conviction. The complaint alleges that close to midnight on June 30, 2018, South Salt Lake City police officers responded to reports of gunfire at a residence. Officers learned that an unidentified individual had fired multiple shots at the residence from a vehicle. Eight bullets struck the residence. Two individuals were inside the home at the time.
Evidence was gathered from a home surveillance camera. Based on the video information and additional information provided by a resident of the home, law enforcement officers were able to identify Rory Cordova as a suspect in the case. An attempt to locate Cordova was issued to police agencies. At approximately, 3:15 a.m., the complaint says, law enforcement officers from multiple agencies located Cordova’s vehicle in Ogden and took him into custody.
During the course of the investigation, officers recovered several shell casings from inside Cordova’s vehicle where they also located a stolen Glock 26 9mm handgun. During their investigation, officers also obtained surveillance of Cordova purchasing two boxes of 9 mm ammunition at a Walmart prior to the shooting.
The spent shell casings from the South Salt Lake shooting and shell casings from Cordova’s car – as well as the stolen 9mm handgun – were sent to the CGIC for entry into the ATF NIBIN network.
Firearms leave unique markings on ammunition and casings as it is discharged from the firearm. NIBIN stores images of those markings, which identify the signature of the firearm. These images are analyzed and compared against other NIBIN entries for matches or “hits.” A “hit” indicates that the markings are the same on the ammunition or casings and would have been fired from the same firearm.
Since purchasing the NIBIN machine in August 24, 2017, DPS has entered more than 1,200 shell casings, resulting in 56 groups of hits totaling 75 case associations. Fifteen of the 56 group hits involve three or more shootings linked to serial shooters.
According to the complaint, the NIBIN analysis revealed that the markings on the spent shell casings recovered from the scene of the South Salt Lake shooting matched the spent shell casings recovered from Cordova’s car.
The NIBIN analysis also linked the Glock handgun recovered from Cordova’s vehicle to spent shell casings recovered from the scene of a shots fired call in Ogden on June 8, 2018.
According to the complaint, the Ogden incident involved a man pulling up in front of a residence where a child’s birthday party was taking place. As shots were fired at the residence from the vehicle, witnesses described grabbing children and running from the residence. Officers located several bullet holes and marks on the exterior of the residence, the front window of the residence, and the windshield of a vehicle parked in the driveway at the residence. Witness statements describing the shooter and the vehicle he was driving were consistent with Cordova’s driver’s license photo and matched a vehicle registered to Cordova.
Cordova is a documented Ogden Trece gang member and has numerous felony convictions, leading to his restricted status under federal law firearms laws, according to the complaint. The potential maximum penalty for each of the two counts in the complaint is 10 years in federal prison.
US v Llewelyn: On January 20, 2018, Justin Gary Llewelyn, age 34, of Herriman, Utah, opened fire on a Unified Police officer when the officer made contact with Llewelyn near an apartment complex in Herriman. After firing at the officer, who was not physically injured, Llewelyn fled and broke into a unit at the apartment complex where he shot the apartment resident and stole his vehicle.
On January 24, 2018, officers located Llewelyn driving a stolen vehicle in Provo. Llewelyn fled from officers, who pursued him through Provo, Springville, and Spanish Fork.
Ultimately, Llewelyn was taken into custody when a Utah County Sheriff’s Deputy successfully disabled the stolen vehicle he was driving. Within the stolen vehicle, officers located a .45 ACP caliber pistol and were able to make NIBIN comparisons between the spent shell casings recovered from the Herriman crime scene and a test fired round from the .45 ACP pistol recovered from the vehicle driven by Llewelyn. The NIBIN analysis confirmed that the .45 ACP spent shell casings at the Herriman crime scene matched the .45 ACP test fired spent shell casing.
Llewelyn is charged in two separate federal indictments with possession of a firearm following a felony conviction.
He faces up to 10 years in prison for each count of felon in possession of a firearm. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is scheduled for trial in the cases in September.
US v Cruz: Lee Donald Cruz, age 39, of Ogden, is charged with possession of a firearm and ammunition in a federal indictment returned in July. The firearm was located in the tank of a toilet during a search of a home in connection with a law enforcement investigation. NIBIN analysis of a test-fired round from the gun produced a “hit” on the gun for a shooting involving a rival gang member a week earlier.
Cruz has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is scheduled for a two-day trial starting Oct. 9, 2018, before U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby. He faces separate charges for aggravated burglary and aggravated kidnapping in state court.
Complaints and indictments are not findings of guilt. Individuals charged in these documents are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.