Pubdate: Fri, 19 Feb 2016
Source: Victoria News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 Black Press
Author: Pamela Roth


Part II of Youth and Gangs

At the age of 16, Doug was at a party when he met some guys he thought
were cool. They had a tough attitude and nobody messed with them -
qualities that Doug could relate to, being a tough kid himself.

Pointing at the biggest guy in the room, the guys told Doug to beat
him up, then he could be their friend. A fighter since Grade 3, Doug
did as he was told and punched the guy hard in the face, knocking him
down to the ground.

Shortly after that night, Doug's new friends started getting him to
sell a little bit of marijuana. Seeing he was good at it, he soon
graduated onto other drugs like crystal meth. Until then Doug had
never worked a day in his life. Suddenly, the teen was making between
$8,000 to $9,000 a month, blowing it on whatever fun he could find.

"Party buses, bottles for all of my friends, clothes, haircuts every
couple of days. I would buy cars just to crash them," said Doug, who
did not want to use his real name to protect his identity.

Before he realized what was happening, Doug had been recruited into
one of Victoria's gangs. The money was more than he could ever dream
of, but life for Doug wasn't exactly glamorous.

Aside from selling drugs, Doug was also known as an enforcer, using
violence he didn't even know he was capable of doing. Fearing for his
safety, Doug began to carry weapons, such as mace, wrenches and
hammers whenever he was out in public. At one point, he had a gun and
wondered when he would have to use it.

On one occasion, Doug was about to make a drug deal on a random
country road when a vehicle rolled up with four guys armed with
powerful guns. Doug and his friends were robbed of their drugs. The
unexpected encounter left him shaken.

"There's lots of times where I'd be walking down the road and there
would be like six dudes that would say, 'oh there you are,'" said
Doug. "I never really thought about what I was doing. Every single day
I did this - just stand on the corner with my buddies, make the money
selling drugs...If we ever saw anyone in our territory they were dealt

Doug's violent gang life lasted for more than a year before he found
himself in youth court, facing charges of assault with a weapon and
uttering death threats for beating someone up. During his time behind
bars, Doug received a visit from his mother, who he hadn't spoken to
for almost a year. He was ashamed to face her.

Facing a minimum sentence of three years behind bars, Doug decided it
was time to cut ties with the gang. But leaving wasn't easy and Doug
had to pay thousands of dollars in order to get out.

"It just wasn't worth it. It might seem cool at the time, but they are
just using you, they just want your money and want you to do their
dirty work," said Doug, who's now on a better path, holding down a job
and pursuing a post-secondary education.

Looking back at his life with the gang, he views it as a big waste of

"I made a lot of enemies that's for sure. I still have to be cautious
of where I go and who I'm with. It's a little scary," he said. "People
still associate you with that gang...I caused it, now I've got to deal
with it."
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