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Ross Kemp on Gangs
Ross Kemp on Gangs:
El Salvador - Cape Town - St. Louis – Moscow


Gangs: ‘Rio de Janeiro is a city at war with itself – it’s just that no one has declared that openly yet. On the first leg of my journey to investigate some of the world’s worst gangs, Ignacio, one of the Sugar Loaf city’s hard bitten, seen-everything-and-then-some taxi drivers, drove me in through the northern suburbs to my hotel on Copacabana beach. The shabby, potholed four-lane motorway snaked in past a motley collection of half-finished offices and grimy apartment blocks, functioning and abandoned factories, warehouses and parking lots. There, glowering from the steep, loaf-shaped hillsides that rose all around us, was the looming presence of Rio’s 800-plus favelas, or shanty towns. Up there was where the gangs lived. Up there was where I needed to go.

***

‘Well built and physically fit, Hound Dog had a small teardrop tattooed under his right eye, long sprouting dreadlocks with red plastic bobbles clipped round the ends of the plaits and an easygoing, open manner. He was highly intelligent and charismatic. He knew more about the Civil Rights movement than I ever will and he talked about life and death in a plain, matter of fact way. We both knew that if life had dealt him different cards and he had been born two miles up the road then he might have gone to college. As it was, Hound Dog lived in a Bloods enclave totally surrounded by Crips. This wasn’t a healthy location. In fact it was so toxic he told me he had been shot twenty-seven times. At first, I didn’t believe him. How could any human being take that many bullets and survive? It had to be some kind of a world record. Either that or a miracle. Watching my reaction he said, ‘You don’t believe me? Most people don’t believe me.’ He pulled up his shirt, lowered his jeans and counted off the wounds one by one.’ It was true: his body was starred, notched and riveted with entry and exit wounds. The man was a walking testament to modern medical science.’
Ross Kemp on Gangs: El Salvador - Cape Town - St. Louis – Moscow



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