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Woman with ties to Corpus Christi thought to be missing was actually evading arrest, tracked to South America

Almost a year ago today Josefa Vela was thought to be missing. Turns out, she was actually on the run from the law. She was found in Ecuador.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Corpus Christi native who was reported missing from her home in La Porte, Texas almost one year ago has been found alive.

Turns out all this time, authorities said the mom who disappeared from her family, children, her life, was actually on the run from the law. 

RELATED: Corpus Christi native missing, last seen near La Porte on Sept. 1

The disappearance of Josefa Vela sparked messages of prayers for her safe return. The last time anyone saw her was when she was driving away from her home in La Porte back in September of 2021.

Law officials there even put out a plea for the public to help find the then 36-year-old mother of five.

Carlos Marrero is with the U.S. Marshals based out of Corpus Christi. He said that Vela, at the time, was out on bond for an underlying drug offense. 

"An arrest warrant was issued to arrest her for bond violations and that is where we came in to track where she was," Marrero said. 

Marrero was part of a team made up of different branches of the U.S. Marshals that worked eight long months to locate Vela, who headed south across the border.

"As soon as we started our investigation, we noticed that she was moving, going from country to county," Marrero said. 

On June 13, 285 days since she was reported missing and some 2,400 miles away from her home in La Porte, Vela was discovered in Ecuador, South America.

"Most people especially in the southern district of Texas believe that when they leave the country they will be safe and they don't understand we have agreements with other countries to track their whereabouts and arrest them," Marrero said.

He credited law enforcement teamwork both on the local and international scale to get her under arrest. Vela is now awaiting her extradition back to the U.S. where she will face her parole violation on top of her original charge.

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