*AFP photo
*AFP photo

Breaking free from old gang ties is made even more difficult in Bermuda because of the island’s size. 

This according to Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva who admits gang members remain at risk from rivals even after they have served their time and been released from prison.

Some high-ranking gang members have fled the island in a bid to escape the violence and bloodshed.

But others have been targeted for previous gang links they cannot shake off after they are freed.

Mr DeSilva told the Bermuda Sun that the decision to leave the country was dependent on being able to afford to relocate.

“Once you get wrapped up in the gang life then the risk to the individual is obviously elevated and very real. And if you are incarcerated then when you get released the risk is still there.

“It’s a different dynamic in Bermuda than say Birmingham in the UK when you can go and live in another part of the country.

“In the UK or the US geography does not present a challenge, here in Bermuda it is everything.”

Over the last four years gang members as well as their families have relocated to the US and the UK in a bid to start afresh.

But the Commissioner acknowledges for those who stay in Bermuda it is difficult to escape their past.

He said: “There is a vicious circle in Bermuda and some have come to the conclusion that ‘this is not the life for me’.

“They have seen people they know get shot and killed or get jailed for 40 years or leave the country forever.

Fear for their life

“And when they come out of prison they can not leave a one block radius without being in fear for their life.

“What programme can they enter that will help them?

“That is not an indictment of the help that is out there – there are agencies on the island that are doing great work at lots of
different levels.

“But once you are in the gang, getting out of it in Bermuda is difficult.”

Mr DeSilva told the Sun: “In order to change someone’s life it all costs money.

“Whether it’s getting off the island or training for a job it all takes money and how can someone just getting out of prison fund that.

“People tell us there is a simple solution all the time — send these guys to England.

“Some people have relocated there and if you have the means it is one of the options to get out of the gang.”