Publication Year


From Civil War to Gangs

From: Gang Life


Jafar, a Sudanese refugee and father of two, recounts a harrowing

story in Chapter Nine. When he was four years old, his

family fled a civil war that had taken the lives of many relatives.

He witnessed atrocities and endured a four-month trek to Egypt

on foot, by boat, and by train. His parents were looking for a

better life but did not find it in Canada. Jafar led a vicious street

gang that had splintered from a larger gang over a dispute. He

brought rules and order to what was then a disorganized group

of thugs from Sub-Saharan Africa, but he grew disillusioned

a couple of years later. From jail, he witnessed his gang spiral

into confusion in the leadership vacuum. Jafar has turned his

life around following his exit from gang life. Now twenty-nine

years old and facing deportation for his crimes, he has been out

of gang life for four years. He is clean and sober, has completed

high school and college, and works full time with a social agency.



Mark Totten

MARK TOTTEN is a professor of criminal justice at Humber College in Toronto whose research focuses on organized crime, corrections, sexual exploitation, human trafficking, mental health, violence, and gender identity. Over the past decade, he has collaborated with groups in Ontario and Western Canada in the development and evaluation of multi-year gang prevention, intervention, and suppression strategies.