A group of about 50 people listen to presenters at a Surrey forum on drugs

Sparse turnout at Surrey crime forum

About 80 people hear former gangster warn parents and youth about the lure of gang life

He watched in disbelief as his friend was dragged to death under the carriage of an SUV.

But the horrific incident was just the start of his gang life, a road that would eventually take him to a stint in North Fraser Correctional Centre – which he described as one of the scariest places he’s been.

Jordan Buna’s recount of his brush with the gangster lifestyle was delivered to a forum on youth, drugs and violence held by the Surrey RCMP and City of Surrey on Monday night at the Bell Centre for the Performing Arts.

Buna’s (pictured left) story was compelling, emotional and awe-inspiring, attendees said.

It was also heard by only about 80 people at the sparsely attended event.

The small showing wasn’t lost on attendee Meera Gill, who was deeply moved by Buna’s story.

“If I would have known this (event) was this wonderful, I would have dragged every single parent, every kid out there,” Gill said. “I sat here and cried listening to Jordan (Buna). Every single speech has been nothing but positive, but everything that has been going to media up until now has been absolutely negative.”

The forum, planned weeks ago, was moved forward because of a spate of recent shootings in Surrey – 34 in total so far this year.

“Why could not all of these chairs have been filled?” Gill asked.

A similar forum held this time last year saw 800 people packed into a school gymnasium.

The presentation given by Mounties and school officials this time around was extremely polished and on point, with most concerns being raised by the community.

Surrey RCMP Officer In Charge Bill Fordy said police are working “around the clock” trying to arrest those responsible for the rash of shootings.

“We’re making headway because of the help we’ve received from the general public,” Fordy said.

The community was most recently rattled by gunfire into a home on Saturday (April 16).

“This may be an example of where the suspects targeted the wrong location,” Fordy said.

He noted the occupants of the home were not previously known to police and are cooperating with investigators.

“As you can well imagine, an innocent person being caught in the crossfire of this criminal activity is our biggest concern, or worst nightmare,” Fordy told the group.

The 34 shootings in 2016 have included “people shooting each other, people shooting into buildings, people shooting into residences and buildings, and shell casings being found outside,” he said.

“The majority of these shootings are happening at the hands of people involved in the drug trade.”

The violence was disrupted by police last year, Fordy said, and promised it would end again this year.

Surrey RCMP Insp. Shawna Baher outlined how dial-a-dope operations work, saying they are much like a pizza delivery.

“You make a phone call and the drugs are delivered to the location of your choice,” Baher said.

The dial-a-dopers are selling cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana.

“And in some instances, these drugs are being mixed with fentanyl,” Baher said, adding the illicit drug is responsible for several deaths in the region.

It’s drug-dealing activities that youth are being recruited for, Baher said. They’re targeted because they are vulnerable, easy to influence and are not known to police, allowing them to operate under the radar.

“Youth are lured in because they see it as a fast and easy way to make money,” Baher told the forum.

Once in, it’s hard for them to get out, Baher said.

Sometimes they owe debts from drugs that were stolen or seized by police.

“Pay or we will kill you,” were the options give to Buna.

He ended up working another 10 months for the gang just to pay off a debt from drugs that had been seized by police.

He worked as an enforcer and other jobs he swore he’d never do. But he had no choice.

“You’re going to be forced to make choices to save your own life, regardless of whether you want to or not,” Buna said.

He ended up in North Fraser Correctional Centre and said it was an absolutely horrid place.

“The things that go on in there would make your toes curl,” Buna said. “Violence, intimidation, bullying on steroids is the best way I can describe it. This place will break you.”

He described it as the next stop for kids looking for fast money and an easy life.

Three principals spoke and said there are 70,000 great students in the Surrey School District.

Paulo Sarmento, principal at LA Matheson, described attendance at the forum as being like a parent-teacher meeting.

“You’re the parents of the straight-A students,” he said to the engaged group.

Gill said the challenge will be to reach the parents of the other students that need to hear what was said on Monday.

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