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DIGGING DEEPER: TPD aims at reducing gun crimes

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TUCSON (KVOA) – Tucson police have a new unit that concentrates on following the guns used in crimes and the people who are using them.

It's a combination of two former units, the Gang and Gun Crimes Unit. It's called the Gun Crimes Reduction Unit. They already have a proven track record of working together.

 The new unit was formed in May and uses high tech equipment to locate the firearms used in crimes.

Sgt. David Contreras is one of two supervisors.  

"Our main focus to follow the firearm that's involved in any criminal activity,” Contreras said. “And to focus on fire arm offenders."

Such as Isaac Cisco, who was a prohibited possessor and was seen in an apartment complex in midtown in April of 2017. Tucson police were called in reference to multiple shots fired.

When officers arrived, they learned it may be gang related, so the Gang detectives were called in, along with the Gun Crimes Unit.

At that time Sgt. Contreras was in charge of the Gang Unit, who helped investigate the shooting of three individuals who were sitting in a car in the parking lot.  One of them was a juvenile. All of them had been shot.

They were taken to the hospital, 28-year-old Angel Valenzuela died on the way.

Detectives combed through the crime scene and located several nine-millimeter cartridge casings that were left there.  Sgt. Contreras said those cartridges were taken and placed in the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network or NIBEN.

NIBEN is a high-tech computer network.  It contains digital images of ballistic evidence recovered at crime scenes.

One month later, police responded to another scene involving a possible fight.

Sgt. Contreras said "There was a vehicle that was leaving at a high rate of speed. This vehicle was actually suspected in the homicide it was a Ford Mustang."

The chase was on the driver Isaac Cisco crashed into a vehicle, he got out of his car and fled on foot and was later caught hiding in someone's backyard.

Police found a nine-millimeter handgun on the floorboard of the Ford Mustang.

The gun was test fired and the bullet casings matched the ones left at the homicide scene on April 23.

That was one component of their investigation. Detectives worked other leads that led to the arrest of Isaac Cisco.  He was tried and convicted of aggravated assault and killing Angel Valenzuela.

Cisco was sentenced last year to life in prison without the possibility of parole.  

The newly formed unit has been extremely busy lately. They're currently working multiple cases some of them involving gang members.

By combining the Gang and Gun Crimes Unit Sgt. Contreras added, "It's provided us additional resources to utilize all the detectives that were in each unit together as well as the two additional supervisors to continue to follow the fire arms that are involved in criminal activity."

All in an effort to continue to keep the community safe.

Lupita Murillo

Lupita Murillo is an investigative reporter. She is part of the Digging Deeper team that uncovers important issues focusing on crime that affects the community.

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