Two men accused of taking part in illegally selling weapons, including machine guns, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court.
Mark W. Pickrell of Warrenton and Aubrey D. Bullard of Appling each pleaded to a single count of engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license. Both will remain free on bond pending sentencing. The crime is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Three others indicted in the case – Danny Lee Thomas of Appling, and Ralph G. Poole and Christopher E. Duckworth, both of whom are in custody – are expected to plead guilty at a later date.
The men were indicted in July on charges of dealing in guns and illegal narcotics.
Special Agent Ronald Rhodes of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives testified Tuesday that the indictment resulted from the work of a confidential information and undercover ATF agents between mid-November 2015 and 2016.
Duckworth set up a meeting for the informant on Dec. 15, 2015, to view weapons for sale. On March 2, 2016, March 16 and on May 16, 2016, the informant met with Poole, Bullard and/or Pickrell in a rural area in Warren County. There the informant and undercover agents tested the weapons for sale and purchased six machine guns and one modified 9 mm that was converted into a short barrel rifle, Rhodes testified.
None of the men were licensed to sell firearms, and none of the machine guns were registered as required.
According to the indictment, the informant and undercover agents posed as either convicted felons or out-of-state residents, both of whom are prohibited from purchasing firearms in Georgia.
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