YUMA, Ariz.-Giving your life to a gang can lead to negative consequences in life such as: life behind bars, drug and alcohol addiction, and death. We spoke to four former gang members who have given us an exclusive interview on what life is inside a gang.
Mario Del Rio says he went through a process of initiation called being ‘jumped in’ at the age of twelve. Del Rio is currently at the Yuma Crossroads Mission working as he is stepping away from the gang life. We asked him why there is so much violence in the gangs and if their was any feelings of guilt. “Yeah, but when you are in a gang all that doesn’t matter. What matters is the gang and the respect that it has to be feared by the other gang, so you know not to mess with my gang.”
Jessica Mata is a mother of two who left her children because of drug addiction and is now trying to fight a battle of sobriety. ”This is the only way out it’s going to make me see a better life. Drug court is going to help me get through this to be a good woman so I can be a good mom to my children,” said Mata.
Bryan Marshall resident of Somerton shares that he went through a drive by as a young child and was nearly shot in the process. “I was involved in a drive by. I was about a feet away from getting hit until my sister dove and saved my life.”
David Deanda has been out of the gang life for many years and is a leader in the Yuma county. He is now a devoted Christian and is assisting with the anti-gang coalition in Yuma County to help stop the violence.
“All of the sudden I grew a love, for those of whom I have hated and as I went out to the streets. I would talk to other gang members. I would talk to other drug addicts. I would talk to those in the streets about before those I would have wanted to kill” Deanda says that finding his faith changed his life for the positive.