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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Florida
Roger B. Handberg, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Monday, November 14, 2022

Lehigh Acres Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Straw Purchasing Firearms for a Mexican Drug Cartel

Fort Myers, Florida – U.S. District Judge Sheri Polster Chappell has sentenced Gabriel Acosta, Jr. (28, Lehigh Acres) to 3 years and 1 month in federal prison for falsifying records relating to firearms purchases. Acosta had pleaded guilty on May 25, 2022.

According to court records, between December 2018 and March 2019, Acosta purchased multiple high-powered rifles from licensed gun dealers in Fort Myers and Cape Coral at the request of a Mexican drug cartel. For each purchase, Acosta falsely certified in ATF paperwork that he was purchasing the firearms for himself, when in truth he knew he was straw-purchasing them for a Mexican drug cartel in exchange for cash kickbacks. After the firearms were purchased, Acosta would travel to Laredo, Texas to offload the guns to a cartel associate. Since late-2019, three firearms straw-purchased by Acosta in Florida have been recovered by Mexican military personnel following firefights with suspected cartel members.

This case was investigated the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Simon R. Eth.

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