St. Paul Crime Lab tech tracks down international gang members - Dallas News |

St. Paul Crime Lab tech tracks down international gang members

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

The newly-expanded crime lab in St. Paul recently played a key role in nabbing some of the country's most notorious criminals, tracking down two international gang members after a kidnapping last month.

In television crime dramas, cases are solved quickly. In reality, it often doesn' work that way -- but when one of Mexico's biggest drug cartels kidnapped a couple of teenagers in Minnesota, investigators didn't have a minute to lose.

A high-speed chase that ended in downtown Los Angeles actually got its start on the streets of St. Paul. FBI agents arrested a reputed international enforcer after the chase ended, and the story of how they did it could be plucked from the headlines and fitted to a Hollywood movie screen.

In early April, a St. Paul stash house was robbed of $200,000 and 30 pounds of meth. Days later, 3 hired guns flew to Minnesota in search of answers, kidnapping two innocent teens and torturing them in a basement.

After the two victims were released, police recovered one of their phones. That phone contained a fingerprint.

"Getting a print off a cell phone is not as easy as what people think," St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith said.

Last year, the St. Paul Police Department expanded its in-house crime lab and added a new way to recover one of the oldest crime-fighting tools -- finger prints.

Using ultra violet light, a forensic technician can lift a latent print that is undetectable to traditional methods, like dusting. More importantly, it does it much faster without relying on the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Additionally, it won't damage the evidence it the process -- unlike some other techniques.

As a result, the house was surrounded within hours and police arrested two members of a notorious drug cartel. One suspect remains on the loose.

The next step for the St. Paul crime lab is to become nationally accredited.

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