An 18-year-old alleged New Bedford gang member was sentenced to serve three to five years in state prison after pleading guilty to illegal firearm charges last week in Fall River Superior Court, Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III announced Monday.

Jovaughn Lopez pleaded guilty to a multi-count indictment charging him with carrying an illegal firearm, carrying a loaded illegal firearm and defacing the serial number of a firearm.

On November 4, 2016, New Bedford Police observed a hand-to-hand drug transaction between occupants of two separate vehicle. When police pulled over one of the vehicles, they found Lopez seated in the back seat. Once removed from the vehicle, police located a fully loaded handgun in the defendant’s waist band, along with brass knuckles and a bag of ammunition in his pockets.

The defendant is an alleged member of the Gangster Disciples.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Melissa Hendrie and the sentence was handed down by Judge Karen Green.

In addition to the state prison term, the defendant will also be on probation for an additional six months upon his release from prison.

“This defendant is an alleged gang member in possession of a loaded gun during a suspected drug transaction. Nothing good will come from this defendant and other individuals carrying illegal, loaded firearms around the City of New Bedford,” District Attorney Quinn said. “This defendant has a prior gun conviction as a juvenile and represents a danger to the community. The sentence was necessary to protect the public.”

--Bristol County District Attorney's Office