Department of Justice
For Immediate Release
Odessa Woman Sentenced for False Statements During Firearm Purchases
MIDLAND, Texas – An Odessa woman was sentenced in a federal court in Midland Wednesday to 18 months in prison for providing false statements during purchases of firearms.
According to court documents, Delma Vitela, 45, purchased at least six firearms between December 2020 and March 2022 from various gun stores in the Midland/Odessa area for her then-boyfriend, a Mexican national. Vitela's then-boyfriend was prohibited from possessing firearms based on his immigration status. By representing on the purchase forms that she was the intended buyer of the guns, Vitela knowingly made false or fictitious written declarations when purchasing the firearms.
In March 2022, an individual was stopped by law enforcement in Laredo, Texas while attempting to cross into Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. This individual had in his possession two firearms that Vitela had straw purchased, one of which she’d purchased less than two weeks prior.
Vitela was arrested by federal authorities on Oct. 21, 2022 and was released on bond on Oct. 26.
“This defendant’s conduct posed a serious threat to the safety and security of people in our communities on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border,” said U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza for the Western District of Texas. “I am thankful our law enforcement partners were able to locate and recover some of the firearms before they reached Mexico.”
“Straw purchasing is not an act of love; it is an act that fuels violence across our country and our neighbors,” said Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey C. Boshek II for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Dallas Field Division. “ATF and our partners in the Permian Basin are steadfast in our fight to keep firearms out of the hands of those that shouldn’t have them. Ms. Vitela thought she was being a good girlfriend when she was actually helping to arm vicious Mexican drug cartels. I hope that others don’t make this same mistake.”
ATF investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Mahoney prosecuted the case.