Pubdate: Fri, 13 Jan 2017
Source: Penticton Herald (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Joe Fries
Page: A3


Former gang member shares harrowing tales with students from South
Okanagan schools

If you don't think gangs have a presence in your small community, think
again. "Street-level drug trafficking groups in Williams Lake or Osoyoos
don't have the ability to import kilos of cocaine from Mexico or Central
America," said Staff-Sgt. Lindsey Houghton of the Combined Forces Special
Enforcement Unit, which fights gang activity across B.C.

"Drugs come from somewhere, and there's a direct nexus between
street-level drug trafficking, gangs and organized crime groups extending
all the way to the highest levels in some cases."

Houghton visited four South Okanagan schools this week to warn kids about
the perils of gang life, which is too often glamourized by those in it.

To help drive home the message, he was accompanied by ex-gangster Jordan
Buna, who shared eye-opening stories about his time in the drug world.

The 33-year-old grew up in a good home in Surrey, participating in regular
activities like science fairs and sports, before attention-deficit
disorder got the best of him and he began acting out.

By Grade 10, he was regularly involved in fights with rival gangs and
watched as one of his friends was mowed down by an SUV at one such

After dropping out of college, he set his sights on joining the military,
but was heartbroken when he was rejected due to his ADD diagnosis.

That left him "lost and directionless" and "ripe for the picking" by
gangsters who frequented the bar where he worked as a cook for minimum

He began doing small jobs for them, like picking up and dropping off
packages - "I thought I was like Al Capone" - then began running his own
dial-a-dope line, which led to some of the scariest times of his life.

"You guys haven't felt fear until you're sitting in a car beside somebody
who's so sick and desperate and addicted to drugs that they, as you're
trying to make that deal with them, they reach up their sleeve and pull a
hypodermic needle out of their own arm, covered in their blood, and hold
it to your neck because they want your drugs and money," Buna told
students Thursday at Princess Margaret Secondary School. "That's fear,
man." Buna later branched out into marijuana grow-ops, but got sloppy, and
was busted in 2004.

Although he eventually skated away with a conditional sentence of 10
months' house arrest, the higher-ups in his gang made him work off the
$30,000 he owed them for product that was lost in the bust.

Payback involved debt collection and robberies.

Also while serving that conditional sentence, he was caught at a nightclub
with a handgun he took from a friend who was on the verge of using it, and
sentenced in 2007 to a year in jail at North Fraser Pretrial Centre.

It was only after paying his debt to society that he turned his life
around, eventually going to university to work on a criminology degree and
delivering anti-gang talks.

Buna stressed to students he was not lecturing them, but simply reminding
them their lives turn on a series of choices.

"If you guys are going to join a gang, you guys are going to deal or get
into drugs, that's on you. Those are your choices. None of us are here to
run your life," he said

"But I promise you, if you start dealing and start getting involved in
this world, we also won't be there for you on that first night in North
Fraser or Kamloops Regional (Correctional Centre) when you cry. Because
you will cry. Everybody cries."
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