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DA’s Office unveils new group to help fight crime

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez said Tuesday that the state’s first Crime Strategies Unit – intended to identify and help prosecute criminal networks – is up and running.

Second Judicial District Attorney Raúl Torrez

The new unit includes several data analysts and a special agent who use technology new to prosecutors to dive deeper into regular criminal cases with hopes that they will find larger networks of criminals. The team has already been working on several highly publicized criminal cases, he said.

Similar units exist in some other major jurisdictions around the country, including San Francisco, which a group of Albuquerque officials visited last year.

“We receive cases in isolation,” Torrez said. “There’s no context that’s provided. A lot of the information sits in those reports, and we fail to connect the dots.”

Kyle Hartsock, the special agent in charge at the District Attorney’s Office, said the team recently uncovered a large criminal network that was linked to an unsolved homicide.

The case had grown cold, but after CSU probed deeper into the homicide victim’s life, they found a network of people were dealing drugs and using firearms. There are now several pending criminal investigations into about 30 people as a result of the unit’s work.

“We found out there was an even bigger group of family and friends, and they are not all violent, by the way, but they are buying things for the group and providing them with places to live. They are helping with the laundering of money or storing of drugs and destroying evidence,” he said.

Hartsock didn’t identify which homicide he was referring to or what other cases are being prosecuted as a result of CSU’s work.

Torrez lobbied the state Legislature for additional money this year, and the office’s budget was increased by more than $4 million. He said part of that money was used to fund the CSU.

The District Attorney’s Office is also partnering with New Mexico Tech to create programs to better analyze crime data.

The new unit was announced Tuesday by state lawmakers, Torrez and officials of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, which says Albuquerque’s crime rates are a threat to economic development.

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