MIDLAND, Texas (KMID/KPEJ)- Earlier this week, an Odessa woman was sentenced in a Midland federal court 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, investigators said Vitela knowingly made false written declarations when purchasing the firearms.
In March 2022, a man was stopped by law enforcement in Laredo, Texas while attempting to cross into Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. He reportedly had in his possession two firearms that Vitela had straw purchased, one of which she’d purchased less than two weeks prior.
Straw purchases occur when the actual buyer of a gun uses another person to execute the paperwork and buy a firearm on their behalf. They use another person because they would not pass a background check due to a felony, domestic abuse charge, or another offense that disqualifies them from gun ownership.
Vitela was arrested by federal authorities on Oct. 21, 2022.
“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 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.”