North Vernon gun case: New details revealed in federal indictment

Photo provided The indictment contains an image of the trunk nearly completely full with guns, including an assault rifle, and a list of 141 weapons that authorities said they seized from the North Vernon suspect.

Ninety-eight pistols, 18 rifles, 11 AK-style rifles, six AR-style rifles, six revolvers and two shotguns.

Those weapons were among the more than 1,000 firearms that authorities say they seized from a North Vernon man who is accused of selling hundreds of thousands of dollars in guns without a license to two individuals who allegedly arranged to transport them to Mexico, according to federal court filings.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday that a federal grand jury had indicted David Joseph Mull, 51, of North Vernon, one count of dealing firearms without a license, which carries a potential prison sentence of up to five years, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

Currently, Mull is on pretrial release after an initial hearing in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis earlier this week, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. A plea of not guilty was entered on Mull’s behalf, and a trial date has been set for Aug. 21.

Under the terms of the pretrial release, Mull must submit to supervision by the U.S. Pretrial Services Agency and is barred from possessing firearms or from traveling outside southern or central Indiana without prior approval.

Mull is being represented by Carmel attorney Guy Relford, who is the chief executive of The 2A Project, an organization that opposes any limitation or restriction on gun ownership for law-abiding citizens, according to its website.

The organization drafted a resolution that was used by others in an unsuccessful attempt in 2020 to persuade Bartholomew County officials to declare the county a Second Amendment sanctuary.

The indictment, which was filed June 20 but unsealed this week, alleges that Mull had been acquiring firearms from gun shows and individuals in southern Indiana and elsewhere to sell to, among others, two people identified as “Individual A” and “Individual B.”

From September 2019 to March 2023, Mull allegedly sold more than 500 guns to Individual A for more than $350,000, the indictment states.

In February, Mull allegedly learned that Individual A and Individual B had transported the guns he sold to Individual A to New York so that they could be taken to Mexico.

In mid-February, Mull contacted Individual B to arrange another sale, sending text messages to the unnamed individual, stating “Got ya a few more today. Could you use a 5.56 caliber AK?” and “I picked you up an AR15, AK47, two 9mm pistols and a 389 today,” according to the indictment.

Individual B told Mull that he or she had a buyer in Mexico was interested in the guns, where the weapons would be transported after the sale.

In early March, Mull met with Individual B to complete the sale of around 90 guns, which loaded into the trunk of Individual B’s vehicle. Individual B paid $56,850 for the guns.

The indictment contains an image of the trunk nearly completely full with guns, including an assault rifle, and a list of 141 weapons that authorities said they seized from Mull.

During the sale, Individual B allegedly asked Mull why he did not have a brick-and-mortal business. Mull’s reply: “Like a store? I don’t want nobody to know. I’m probably like you, I don’t want nobody to know about it.”

“Hopefully we can continue to do a bunch of business, I’ll keep on getting stuff,” Mull allegedly told Individual B.

It is unclear if the 90 guns sold to Individual B in March were among the 141 firearms listed in the indictment, or if those were in addition to the 90 sold to Individual B.

Federal authorities said Monday that they had recovered more than 1,000 guns from Mull, including from his basement, bedroom and office.

Mull has never been a licensed firearm dealer and initially attracted the attention of federal authorities in 2016, when Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives sent him a cease-and-desist letter, advising him that it was illegal to sell firearms without a license, according to investigators.

ATF denied a request by The Republic to obtain a copy of the cease-and-desist letter.

Federal officials say that gun smuggling over the U.S.-Mexican border helps the illegal drug trade and has links to organized crime, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy has identified the trafficking of firearms from the U.S. into Mexico as a threat to the safety and security of both countries.

The Mexican government has estimated that 200,000 firearms are smuggled from the United States each year. Mexico also has claimed in recent federal court filings in an unrelated case that 70% to 90% of guns recovered at crime scenes in Mexico came from the United States.