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ISBN: 9781459406254

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Gang Life

10 of the toughest tell their stories

For the first time, here’s a no-holds-barred inside account of life for criminal gang members in cities and towns across Canada.

Mark Totten has slowly gained the confidence of gang members in many Canadian cities and small towns, and he knows enough to get the real goods from these men and women. In this book he tells the life stories — so far — of ten gang members drawn from across the country. Murderers, rapists, addicts, drug traffickers, victims of child abuse, abusers themselves — these are people who many consider the worst of the worst.

But from their life stories, a more nuanced and complex picture emerges. The circumstances and events which lead children and teens into criminal life become clearer.


Jake, a 28-year-old former neo-Nazi skinhead gang member who beat people up "just for the fun of it," then became a drug dealer and a freelance enforcer for organized crime groups

Kim, a Cree woman with two addicted parents who joined her gang at 14, kept off drugs, and ran a group of prostitutes until going to jail — at just 16

Dillon, a Latino-Canadian, sexually and physically abused as a young boy, a drug dealer and gang leader in high school and later head of a local chapter of a major international gang until he was "honoured" out

No one will think the same way about criminal gang members and the circumstances that lead to a life in crime after reading this compelling and revealing book.


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.

Chapter Title Abstract Contributors Pages Year Price


describes how he came about to writing this book and his history of interest in gangs. Analyzes the different types of gangs. Describes legal obligations of his interviews. Explains some … 14 $1.40


twenty-five-year-old Kim describes a life, both inside and outside her gang, in which “I did not know who I was.” Her childhood and early adolescence were wracked with rejection and … 21 $2.10


tells the story of thirty-three-year-old Terrence, a mixed race “independent enforcer” who found the Lord just in time for a parole hearing. Terrence has a rather large ego and he … 16 $1.60


Monica, a forty-fiveyear- old lesbian gang mother. Now clean after too many years of injecting morphine and cocaine, she takes in young gang members and cares for them. She was terrorized by a … 19 $1.90


Jake, who is Caucasian and twenty-eight years old, takes us on a whirlwind tour that parallels the emotional and behavioural problems that plagued his childhood with his life in a gang. He was … 19 $1.90


The story of Janie, aged twenty-five, and George, eight years older, is in Chapter Five. Both Aboriginal, they were married until George killed a rival a couple of years ago. He also tried to … 18 $1.80


Dillon, aged thirty-three and a Latino father of two, tells his story in Chapter Six. Along with five friends, he founded a gang in high school. A few years later he was asked to patch over and … 18 $1.80


Gilbert, a Métis man aged thirty-four years, and Maureen, thirty-five years, live on a small reserve. Their lives are described in Chapter Seven. Both are hard-core addicts and have two boys … 15 $1.50


meet thirty-two-year-old Jeremy and thirty-year-old Dawn. Jeremy is a scrawny transporter of guns, drugs, and money for various gangs. Despite having Aboriginal blood, he passes as white, which … 16 $1.60


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 … 17 $1.70


The story of Ivan is told in Chapter Ten. He is forty-one years of age, and he came to Canada as a young boy when his family — mother, stepfather, and younger brother — fled a civil … 15 $1.50


the conclusion of the book attempts to answer the question how do people end up on a pathway to serious and violent offending? 10 $1.00