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By Brian Fraga
Standard-Times staff writer
October 18, 2008 6:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD - Three reputed United Front gang members were indicted this week on charges of selling firearms.
Law enforcement officials say Figi Fortes, 18, Jordan Merkman, 20, and Jensen Molina, 17, all of New Bedford, conspired twice in April to sell guns to a confidential informant.
The informant purchased a .380 handgun from the defendants on April 8, court records said. Mr. Merkman allegedly coordinated the deal and drove Mr. Molina and Mr. Fortes to meet the informant.
Three days later, the informant reportedly arranged to purchase three more weapons from the defendants. However, Mr. Fortes and Mr. Molina allegedly robbed the informant at gunpoint, court records said.
There was no indication Mr. Merkman knew his two alleged co-conspirators were going to rob the informant, prosecutors said.
Police arrested the defendants Thursday. They are charged with unlawful selling of a firearm, unlawful possession of a firearm and two counts of conspiracy to sell a firearm.
Mr. Merkman pleaded not guilty to all counts during his arraignment Friday in New Bedford Superior Court.
Mr. Fortes will be arraigned Monday in Superior Court.
Mr. Fortes will also be arraigned Tuesday in New Bedford District Court on assault charges stemming from a June 23 gang-related attack of a rival inmate at the Dartmouth House of Corrections. He was serving a drug sentence at the time and allegedly joined eight other inmates in assaulting a reputed Monte Park gang member.
Meanwhile, Mr. Molina will be prosecuted as a youthful offender in juvenile court because he was 16 during the alleged incidents. However, he could still be sentenced as an adult if convicted.
Mr. Fortes and Mr. Merkman will appear Oct. 22 in Superior Court for a dangerousness hearing. If found dangerous, they will be held without bail for 90 days while their cases are pending.
Assistant District Attorneys Steven Gagne and Garrett Fregault are prosecuting the case.
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