British Columbia

Former gang member has a warning for Surrey's young drug dealers

Police say drug dealers as young as 17 are responsible for much of the gun violence that has plagued Surrey in recent months.

Jordan Buna says young dial-a-dopers have no idea what they're getting themselves into

Former gang member Jordan Buna now works with the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit to put on anti-gang presentations for high school students. (Glen Kugelstadt/CBC)

Police say drug dealers as young as 17 are responsible for much of the gun violence that has plagued Surrey in recent months.

That's about the same age Jordan Buna was when he became a dial-a-doper in Surrey more than a decade ago.

Police investigate a shooting in April 2016 near the intersection of 67A Avenue and 140 Street in Surrey. (Mark Gryski/CBC)

"Here I am, an 18-year-old kid working in a restaurant making eight or nine bucks an hour," he says.

"I look at the job market and as I'm working, I can see these guys come into the bar, and they have money on them and they have girls with them."

Not so glamorous

It didn't take long for Buna to realize drug dealing wasn't as glamorous as he first thought. A drug addict robbed him at needlepoint.

Surrey RCMP located shell casings in the area around 62 Avenue and 142 Street, as well as 64 Avenue and 142 Street in early March. (Shane Mackichan)

He was afraid to hang around with family members because an enemy might shoot at him. The breaking point came when he was sent to jail for gun possession.

"Every time you could be going to make a drug delivery, you could be getting set up by a rival for a shooting," he said.

"You always have that in the back of your mind. There's a lot of opportunities for guys to rob you."

Straight and narrow

Buna walked away from his criminal lifestyle when he was released from jail in 2008.

He now works full time, studies criminology and psychology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and tells his story to high school students to keep them away from gangs.

"I have made way more money working and being myself than I ever did within the drug trade," Banu said.

What's the solution?

Filmmaker and community activist Mani Amar believes the answer to Surrey's gun violence problem is a bigger investment in crime prevention programs that target youths.

Mani Amar says more investment is needed in crime prevention programs for youths. (Glen Kugelstadt/CBC)

"We'll see guys go to jail and maybe we'll have a calm period for a year like we had last year, but it's cyclical," he said.

"Guys will come back. What we need to do is eliminate that recruitment pool of young men willing to make those negative choices."

Amar says the young men involved in this current feud appear to be younger and more reckless than their predecessors.

"What scares me the most is when you're young and full of testosterone and an adolescent, you're going to make even worse negative choices," he said.

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