SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A recently solved drive-by shooting case in South Salt Lake highlights the effectiveness of a newly formed center that provides investigators with improved ballistics testing, according to Utah authorities.

Investigators using the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network traced a stolen Glock 26 9-mm handgun to Rory Curtis Cordova, who authorities said is a 50-year-old Ogden Trece gang member, the Deseret News reported .

Cordova now faces federal firearms charges that could result in 10 years behind bars.

Federal, state and local law enforcement leaders said the arrest is a good example of the role the ballistics network and the Crime Gun Intelligence Center play in piecing together violent crimes.

Utah U.S. Attorney John Huber said police wouldn't have solved the South Salt Lake case and two others in Herriman and Ogden without the ballistic information network. "We have successfully deployed the technology that should leave gang members and thugs shaking in their boots," he said.

Regina Lombardo, associate deputy director of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, joined Huber and state and local police at a news conference last week touting the program.

"We look at it as going after the trigger-pullers who are causing the crimes in the community, and the traffickers, those traffickers who are getting hold of the firearms and causing the crimes," Lombardo said.

The technology, which the state crime lab has used since last August, allows police to match spent shell casings to the guns that fire them.

To date, Utah law enforcers have entered 1,200 casings into the system, resulting in 56 hits in 75 cases. And 15 of those hits involve three or more shootings linked to serial shooters, Department of Public Safety Commissioner Keith Squires said.

Justin Bechaver, senior forensic scientist and manager of the crime lab firearms section, sends detailed images of shell casings to an instrument in California that looks for other features.

"That information gets sent back to us, and we compare those images that it thinks matches and we look for potential matches from the local database that we have here," he said.

The lab searches the database in Utah as well as surrounding states, but it could also search in states across the country, Bechaver said.

___

Information from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com