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A former drug dealer has explained how he managed to turn his life around after 'waking up' during his time in prison.
Hermengildo Dange was sentenced to six years in prison in 2017 for dealing Class A drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine.
The 22-year-old was part of a gang called the Manchester Boys, or Manx, where he ran the drugs from Manchester to Southampton for four years.
Hermen served three years at Stangeways prison, half his sentence, and was released in 2020 during the pandemic.
The former drug dealer, who's now miraculously turned his life around, admitted he was 'young and stupid' and 'wanted money fast, without having to work for it'.
Hermen, now 28, said: "I have made mistakes and followed the wrong crowd.
Brought up in Collyhurst, Hermen says he had a good upbringing but swayed off course in his mid-teens.
"I wasn't pressurised to do anything but it was more the rush to succeed. I wanted money fast, without having to work for it.
"That's what the majority of people do, they don't want to put the hours in.
"I was young and stupid, aged 17, and I ended up selling Class A drugs, nothing was happening to me, I wasn't getting arrested.
"I was getting away with it and got away with it for a good four-year run. I was transporting drugs from Manchester to Southampton.
"I had built a gang around me but I was young and stupid - I didn't realise there was an operation following me.
"I got arrested in Southampton, I was in trouble with the police prior to that for the stupidest things like fighting over drugs. I was in a dark place, not knowing I was in a dark place."
Thankfully, things have now very much changed for him and by enrolling onto a mentoring course, he decided it was time for him to pay something back to the community.
A probation officer suggested he used the skills he had applied to forming a drugs gang into helping launch a legitimate business.
Once out of jail, Hermen says he got his head down and his mum bought him his first van so that he could set-up a removal firm.
He bought more vans, employed staff and also set up a street food business.
Hermen has since decided to become a mentor, showing kids - many who are facing the same path he once did - how he has turned his life around.
He added: "It's something I never felt comfortable doing - speaking to children and a large audience - and admitting my truth.
"But I thought I have the skills, I need to share my story and stop others from going down that wrong path."
As well as having his own businesses in transport and food, Hermen is now a mentor at youth centres and schools, talking to the younger generation about 'life after high school'.
He has projects lined up working with youth and Manchester council.
Hermen added: "I have been out for two years now and my aim is not to be rich - but to be successful and to help others as much as I can.
"I changed the life of one person, who may have damaged hundreds of peoples lives (by selling drugs), like I did in the past.
"The way I keep myself alive now is to talk to people.
"The feedback and response is amazing."
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