The 15th witness of the trial was David Joseph Blea. Blea explained how the Border Patrol sector evidence team – the Border Patrol’s limited version of CSI – secures and analyzes evidence from the scene of an incident.
This testimony wasn’t a critical part of the trial but I thought the fingerprint testimony was interesting: At the end of his testimony, Blea stated that fingerprint searches on Aldrete-Davila’s van were run through the El Paso Police Department’s fingerprint system but there were no hits because they were not usable prints.
Based on my internet search, it appears the El Paso Police Department uses a fingerprint system from a private vendor known as AFIS. I’m not sure whether the El Paso Police Department was using AFIS when these fingerprints were run but perhaps there was a good economic or timing reason to use the AFIS system rather than the Border Patrol’s system, or perhaps the prints weren’t usable in any system.
However, the FBI uses IAFIS, “the world’s largest repository of fingerprint records.” The Customs and Border Protection had deployed the IDENT/IAFIS system at every Border Patrol station since October/November 2004:
“In September 2004, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol’s IDENT, short for Automated Biometric Identification system, linked up with the FBI’s IAFIS system to provide an electronic web of enforcement that covers the entire perimeter of the United States. Available at all 136 Border Patrol stations around the country, these two systems offer complete, complementary coverage to identify, accurately and irrefutably, anyone apprehended by a Border Patrol agent.”
By contrast, the El Paso Police Department’s AFIS system apparently has a much smaller database than IDENT/IAFIS. If this information is correct, I think it’s interesting that the El Paso Border Patrol bypassed its larger database fingerprint system to run the van prints through the El Paso Police Department system.
Any thoughts on this?
In any event, here is the testimony of David Joseph Blea: