The night a team of police officers, clad in bullet proof vests, surrounded his house was a turning point for Scott Magri.
He remembers each detail vividly.
“I had 14 grown men yelling at me with their guns,” says Magri, recalling a time when he ran five lucrative marijuana -grow operations.
Until then, he had felt invincible. Nobody, not even the police, could touch him. He was known to use his fists to swiftly settle scores.
“Because I had the reputation, being a drug dealer was easy. Everybody knew not to mess with me.”
Though he never killed anyone, Magri came close.
“There were many times I walked out of my house with a shotgun and shells,” he says.
Magri is now sharing his experience of life as a drug dealer and gang affiliate to steer others off a similar path.
He spoke at a forum about crime in Surrey on Thursday and hopes a similar event can be organized in Maple Ridge.
“We’ve been put on this planet to learn and to teach. What good are all the mistakes if I can’t pass it on to anybody else?” says Magri, who chronicled his crazy past in a book titled Lessons: Crime, Games and Pain, which he self-published last year.
Lessons charts Magri’s life from his early days as a kid with a lazy eye who was bullied in school, to a drug-dealing thug and his eventual triumph over an addiction to the opiate Oxycontin after three suicide attempts.
Magri’s drug dealing operation pulled in $60,000 per month but a large chunk of it was spent on feeding his own habit. He’s learned to look at money with a jaundiced eye.
“Stop the greed. It’s tearing the world apart,” he says.
Magri believes parents play the most important role in keeping a child away from a life of crime.
Spend time with your kids, he says. Listen to them, know what they are doing.
“Don’t just hand them the keys to the Mercedes.”
My dad only told me he loved me once, says Magri. His mom was stretched both emotionally and financially, raising three sons and working three jobs.
“She did her best.”
Magri’s tale resonates with young people and police agree it’s a powerful way to dispel the myths of gang life.
“Not everybody absorbs the message from the police, we haven’t lived that life. We haven’t been gangsters,” said Sgt. Lindsey Houghton with the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.
“Having someone like Scott speak, goes a long way and lends credibility to the message.”
Scott Magri is working with the Watershed Watch Salmon Society to restore his favourite fishing hole in Pitt Meadows – the Katzie Slough. On Saturday, July 19, HUB will lead a summer bike tour of the waterway from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. RSVP Lina Azeez via email at email@example.com.