Gilberto Usdel Tello pleaded guilty in front of U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera to lying to a special agent with the Department of Housing and Urban Development-Office of the Inspector General, or HUD-OIG, by telling the officer the only income he received was from social security and social security income.
A review of Tello’s BHA records showed he only reported food stamps, social security and social security income between 2016 and 2018 to the BHA despite a review of banking records showing that he made numerous cash deposits into a second bank account not reported to the BHA.
During the Tuesday hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Hagan said Tello used that second bank account to purchase gun parts and failed to disclose profits from the sale of ammunition and firearm parts deposited into that account.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms began investigating Tello in 2016 and a review of his financial records from between January 2015 and April 2018 showed $60,392 in cash deposits above what he earned from government assistance, court documents indicate.
Tello reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, which wasn’t filed in the court record in time for deadline.
Public court records don’t indicate whether Tello is facing charges relating to the illegal exportation of firearms to Mexico.
Five search warrant applications filed in Tello’s court case for electronic devices showed that federal officials with Homeland Security Investigations began investigating Tello in May 2018, eventually merging the investigation with the ATF in July.
ATF investigators first became aware of Tello after searching the phone of a defendant charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, court records indicate.
Tello’s information was saved in the phone as “Gun Jose,” according to the search warrant applications, which state that in May 2017 another defendant also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm while under indictment had a phone with conversations between Tello and the defendant that showed Tello sold at least one firearm to that defendant, who later told authorities Tello provided him with 10 firearms that were destined for Mexico.
The ATF interviewed Tello in July 2017 and Tello provided investigators with bills of purchase that showed he sold, purchased and traded approximately 60 firearms over approximately 20 months through various Facebook pages.
At the time, he told ATF that he received $750 a month in government assistance and disability and that he had never held a job. The only other income Tello said he received was through selling items online, according to the search warrant applications.
The ATF review of Tello’s financial records shows he purchased 68 firearm kits between Feb. 13, 2017, and May 26, 2018, according to court records.
That same month HSI began investigating Tello after a person identified only as “the source” was intercepted by Mexican authorities for smuggling firearms parts in their vehicle into Mexico, according to the search warrant applications.
The source told HSI investigators that Tello would go with him to the bank and deposit cash into the source’s bank account and would take the source’s bank card information and use it to place online orders for firearms parts, court documents indicate.
Once those parts arrived, Tello and the source would meet in public parking lots where Tello took the parts from the source, who also said they were paid $300 by Tello to deliver the parts to an identified person’s residence in Mexico, according to the search warrant applications.
During the Tuesday hearing, Hagan said the ATF investigation revealed significant income from the sale of ammunition and firearm parts and that during a 17-month period he purchased 57,921 rounds of ammunition for approximately $12,000; 66 firearms for approximately $17,000 and 382 rifle magazines for approximately $3,000.
Tello, who faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, is scheduled for sentencing on May 1.