A Jennings County man accused of selling hundreds of thousands of dollars in guns without a license to two individuals who allegedly arranged to transport them to Mexico initially came to the attention of authorities several years before being indicted, federal records show.
On May 24, 2016, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives provided David Joseph Mull of North Vernon with a “warning notice of unlicensed firearms dealing in violation of federal law,” according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Republic.
Mull was indicted by a federal grand jury just over seven years later on 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.
The 2016 letter advised Mull to stop dealing firearms until he obtained a federal firearms license, which firearms dealers are required to obtain under federal law. The letter further warned him that “continued activity without the required license could result in a recommendation for criminal prosecution.”
The criminal indictment, filed this past June in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis and unsealed in July, alleges that Mull has never been a licensed firearms dealer. It is unclear whether the activity mentioned in the 2016 letter is directly related to the recent indictment.
“Recently, your participation in the purchase, sale and/or transfer of firearms has come to the attention of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives,” the 2016 letter states. “…This letter serves to officially warn you to cease and desist engaging in the business of dealing in firearms until you have sought and obtained a federal firearms license.”
The indictment 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 who 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 were 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 that they had recovered more than 1,000 guns from Mull, including from his basement, bedroom and office.
Currently, the case is pending in federal court. In July, a federal judge postponed Mull’s criminal trial until February, after Mull and his attorney Guy Relford said they needed more time to “investigate and research the complex factual and legal basis for the government’s allegations” to prepare for a criminal trial or evaluate any plea agreement that the federal government may offer. The U.S. government did not object to postponing the trial.
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.