Researchers have developed a new software that uses call records and other information to map hierarchies within criminal organisations.
The new platform, called LogAnalysis, allows forensic investigators to deeply understand hierarchies within criminal organisations, discovering members who play central role and provide connection among sub-groups, researchers said.
Developed by Emilio Ferrara at Indiana University in Bloomington and colleagues, LogAnalysis automatically imports raw phone call records and removes ambiguities and redundancies in the data.
It also allows agents to add other data such as mug shots from police records.
The agents can then study the data in different ways. For example, they can look at the network of links between individuals according to the number of calls they make to each other, 'MIT Technology Review' reported.
In this network, each phone is a node and connections exist between phones that have called each other. That immediately allows the detection of communities that tend to contact each other more often.
This in turn can reveal the hierarchy of a criminal organisation and the most important individuals within it.
According to 'New Scientist', the team also pinpointed a few rules of thumb that can reveal an individual's standing in a criminal organisation.
For example, lower-level lackeys send lots of short calls and texts at the time a crime happens. Those who are higher up tend not to receive too many calls, although they will often take one right after the crime has been committed.
Ferrera and team used LogAnalysis to study a large criminal network for which law enforcement agencies obtained records for 84 phones over a period of 15 days.
This network was responsible for a series of robberies, extortions and illicit drug trafficking.
Researchers said LogAnalysis showed the links between members of this gang, how calls were clustered around specific crimes and how certain members operated in up to 14 different subgroups, some of which had the specific task of committing murders.