Once upon a time, criminal investigations were mapped out on chalkboards. Building a mosaic connecting people, places, times, and evidence would lead to suspects and eventually to arrests. It was a time-consuming process that was far from perfect, but it was one way for investigators to get a visual representation of a case as it was unfolding. Such methods quickly became impractical, however, when the world adopted digital devices as our primary form of communication. Cellphones contained data and that data could be analyzed to render actionable intelligence critical to investigations.

The Digital Intelligence Gamechanger

Digital Intelligence—the data collected and preserved from digital sources and data types (smartphones, computers, and the Cloud) and the process by which agencies collect, review, analyze, manage, and obtain insights from this data to more efficiently run their investigations—is now the driving force behind investigations. To meet the challenges of investigating crimes in this new digital landscape, agencies are transforming the way they conduct investigations and adopting new technological solutions to solve more cases faster.

Cellebrite’s end-to-end solution allows law enforcement agencies to collect, review, analyze, manage, and obtain insights from Digital Intelligence to run investigations more efficiently. (Credit: Cellebrite)

Digital devices are key, but they are a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, the data they harbor is a prime source of evidence. On the other, the growing number of devices and the sheer volume of data that must be analyzed are burying investigation teams. Typical cases may include dozens of devices, which leaves examination labs backlogged and investigators frustrated by having to wait in the lab backlog line only to be deluged by mountains of data that must be parsed to find actionable intelligence.

Agencies simply don’t have the time or the human resources to cope, which is why so many managers are quickly adding analytics solutions like Cellebrite Pathfinder to their digital toolboxes to open the bottlenecks and ease workflow.

The Power of Analytics

Powered by AI, Cellebrite Pathfinder drastically reduces time to evidence by automating processing (decoding) and analysis of digital data to sift through massive quantities of data quickly. Other benefits include:

  • Automation of the decoding process. This makes the data accessible in simple form directly for investigators, which frees up lab experts to perform review-only to escalate workflow in complex cases while reducing backlogs at labs.

  • Uncovering evidence that would have been missed (or impossible to find) through manual examination of data. Connecting disparate bits of evidence to tell the “whole story” of the investigation.

  • Enriching technical metadata with human readable insight, turning Internet paths into simple topics and resolving endless identifiers to real-life persons.

  • Providing a complete visualization of the investigation to drive command decisions.

  • Simplify data reporting by providing easy-to-use templates that are graphically-driven to make evidence easy to understand by prosecutors, juries, and judges.

The true test of how a digital solution works, however, is measured by its impact on solving more crimes faster. The following cases illustrate how Cellebrite Pathfinder is making a profound difference in bringing cases to a speedy resolution.

Drug Kingpin’s Operation Destroyed

Cellebrite Pathfinder was also key in helping the Federal Police of Brazil (Polícia Federal) seize millions of dollars in assets to bring down a major drug-smuggling kingpin.

“Operation Enterprise” was the culmination of two years of investigative work that started with the seizure of 776 kgs. of cocaine en route to Antwerp, Belgium. Working with teams from nine different countries using Cellebrite DI solutions, CGPRE (General Coordination for Drugs and Organized Crime Repression) teams from Polícia Federal were able to identify the players and key bank accounts.

Cloud analysis enabled the teams to track down other assets including real estate holdings, cars, aircraft, and yachts. Cellebrite Pathfinder allowed them to begin piecing disparate pieces of evidence together, which led to a host of other criminals involved.

When the take-down finally took place, 45 individuals were arrested, and the assets seized were valued in the tens of millions of dollars.

Pathfinder Helped Lead Investigators To A Double Homicide

Investigators at Gulf Coast Technology Center used Cellebrite Pathfinder to help unravel an unusual case. What started out as a car-theft ring morphed into a vehicle-theft ring and a firearms theft ring. The firearms-theft ring then turned into a firearms-distribution ring on the street where the guns were being sold. The guns then lead to two active cases of homicide.

Cellebrite Pathfinder quickly assembles all of the connections between the suspect and those they have been in contact with to begin building valuable timelines in cases. (Credit: Cellebrite)

The investigators would have never known where the guns came from had they not seized the phones from the cars that were being used by people who were stealing cars and guns.

Pharma Robber Busted

Cellebrite Pathfinder proved critical in an investigation by the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office into a man suspected of robbing a number of pharmacies. By using analytics to connect disparate bits of information, investigators were able to create detailed timelines that placed the suspect at the crime scenes when the robberies occurred.

When confronted with the detailed timelines of robberies, all connected to the phone data, the suspect confessed, explaining that he was a drug addict who fed his habit through the robberies.

Analytics’ Impact on Workflows

While Cellebrite Pathfinder is one of an integrated suite of tools agencies are adopting to expedite investigations, analytics is almost single-handedly transforming the way today’s agencies are dealing with data to move cases forward faster.

Law enforcement investigators must have the ability to match policing know-how with automated, intelligent tools that can rapidly uncover connections and patterns that lead to more solved cases. (Credit: Cellebrite)

Analytics tools, powered by Artificial Intelligence, can compress the time needed for analysis, such as reviewing images and video that could take months to study to free up manpower.

To read Cellebrite’s latest whitepaper on investigative analytics, click here.

About The Author: Jack Ziv is VP of Product Business Management at Cellebrite. As a product expert and intelligence veteran, Jack had the privilege to design and create technology solutions to help law enforcement agencies around the world resolve common intelligence and investigation challenges. Serving as a Captain (reserve) for the National SIGINT Unit, his prism of mixing operational investigation methods and industry-leading technology creates his unique perspective. Jack holds an MBA specializing in Business Strategy and Innovation from the Interdisciplinary College of Herzliya and a BSC in Technology Management from Holon Institute of Technology.

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