Quince Garcia a former south London drug dealer reveals in a candid interview with the Evening Standard how he “gave up the game” and left life on a London estate behind.
“I was a young boy with no self esteem, no confidence, I felt like community didn’t want me.”
These are the words of Quince Garcia, 39, who at 18 years old became a drug-dealer on London’s streets twenty years ago.
It was the birth of his second child at 28 made him want to turn his life around.
The father of three kids who was raised on an estate in south London, in the 80s has candidly revealed to the Standard what enabled him to turn his life around after three stints in jail.
His former life of crime involved selling drugs, guns and carrying out burglaries, he said.
Garcia made repeated attempts to alter his life including attending college and getting a part-time job, but it wasn’t until he had a mental episode at University that he felt he was able to pursue his ambitions of a career in film industry.
“My father was in prison a lot; my mother brought us up mainly on her own, She tried really hard,” he said.
Ex-London drug dealer continued: “I felt like I wasn’t on the smart side of community I knew that my life was going to be one where I had to find a way out of being poor.”
After committing minor burglaries in his youth, Garcia began selling narcotics shortly after he left high-school.
At the age of 17, Garcia started selling marijuana on Camberwell’s Vestry Estate and says he couldn’t see any options for himself.
“I didn’t feel capable of doing a job that I really wanted to do. I didn’t feel like community wanted me,” he said.
After 3 months of selling weed, Garcia moved onto selling crack cocaine after he was approached by an older drug dealer.
“He told me, I knew that you were going to be the person to deal with me. He gave me his phone with all his contacts.
“I was a young boy with no self-esteem, no confidence but I was gaining false confidence by gaining money and feeling secure with money. I had an ego that made me feel untouchable,” he continued.
Ex-London drug dealer sold narcotics for ten years. During that time he went to prison twice for illegal driving and a third time for drug possession with an intent to sell.
Recalling the exact moment he decided he wanted to leave “the game” behind, he said: “There was a man in his thirties who used to patrol the area. I remember looking at him and thinking there’s no way I want to be like him when I’m going to be 30.
“Still talking about narcotics, still selling drugs and living in this estate.”
Garcia began taking classes and eventually attended college in Westminster and Lewisham while continuing to sell drugs.
In 2004 he was arrested for the third time and sentenced to two and a half years in jail.
After serving over a year of his sentence, he left jail and did not return to dealing.
“I said to myself what am I going to do to ensure it doesn’t happen again?”
During his time in prison, Garcia began writing a screenplay based on his own experiences.
At the age of 28, Ex-London drug dealer attended University of East London and achieved a degree in film production and animation.
After school, he set up his own business called Road Works Media funded by the Prince’s Trust which aimed to provide workshops for youths looking to get into employment.
Speaking at schools and businesses in London Garcia talked to young people about his own experiences.
“I spoke to them about not being scared of failure and how important it is to be fearless,” he said.
Students who enrolled in the workshops took part in a three-month programme which included CV training and cognitive behavioral therapy and ultimately ended in finding employment.
He explained how a lot of young people find it difficult to communicate how they are feeling.
Ex-London drug dealer said that he believed the therapy was the most important aspect of the course as mental health issues in deprived areas are often overlooked.
During his time at school, Garcia experienced a mental episode himself which resulted in him spending ten days in a mental institution.
“I started to realize that I was behaving in a certain way and I was so angry,” he said.
“I had a nervous breakdown, and it was contributed by a lot of stuff I had done in the past and a lot of things that I was dealing with which I had repressed.
“That was the moment I broke down an old coping mechanism which was built on false securities and self imposed conditions and narrow-mindedness. Once I realized that I realized my mental health needed to be rebuilt.”
Now Garcia is a presenter and producer with production company Underworld TV and is currently working towards producing his own film about Southwark’s first black mayor Sam Beaver King.
He has already received funding from Southwark Council and aims to train 3 young people in film production in the process of making the movie.
Garcia said he hopes he can continue to produce films and provide you people with film training.
“It’s about taking these people under your wind and providing them with skills and networking opportunities to make them believe that they are a part of a community,” he said.