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From: Gang Life

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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 war in their

Eastern European country. The family was plagued by alcoholism and his stepfather instilled in Ivan the code of the street: don’t rat,

don’t trust the police, and fight for your family honour. To this

day Ivan bears the heavy burden of supporting his mentally ill

mother and his siblings. Ivan played a specialized role in his highprofile

gang — he was responsible for negotiating the “terms and

conditions” of cocaine and gun trafficking with a South American

cartel. Ivan was a higher-up and led his own crew. They not only

trafficked in illicit drugs, but they also imported steroids and

human growth hormones from other countries. He believed in

showing the value of his product to potential customers: no one

in his crew weighed less than 240 pounds of solid muscle.

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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.