The FBI's Drugfire system has helped many local crime labs

solve crimes. The network enables comparisons of used

bullets and casings and connects guns to crimes.

jewelry store robbery in Dade County, Fla., went awry late last year and two people were shot by one of the perpetrators. A few weeks later, shots were fired during an auto parts store robbery. Shell casings collected at both crime scenes were matched to the same gun by the county crime laboratory, yet detectives didn't have any solid leads.

But the county crime laboratory is armed with Drugfire, a networked system enabling forensic labs to compare spent cartridges. After searching Drugfire databases at other labs, Dade County criminalists found that the same weapon was also fired at a home in a neighboring county.

Detectives later went to the house and interviewed the residents, who said they thought they knew who was responsible for the shooting because of a long-running feud.

Detectives arrested the man the residents suspected and recovered a handgun. Testing verified that it was very likelythe weapon used to shoot at the house as well as in the Dade County robberies.

The key to Drugfire, a networked system which holds images of spent cartridges, is that it can help link weapons to other shootings.