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‘Watching thugs cry themselves to sleep behind bars was scarier than stabbings’

A man who was jailed for more than six years for drug charges has revealed the horrors he witnessed from behind bars.

Hermenegildo Dange, a former class-A drug dealer, claims to have witnessed countless terrifying sights throughout his stay at Strangeways prison.

Yet nothing rocked him more than seeing a once powerful kingpin go from having it all to crying alone in his cell.

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Speaking to the MEN, the 29-year-old said: “There’s a lot of gang activity in prison. I’ve seen all sorts.

“The most shocking thing for me was seeing the baddest of people – even people I used to look up to when I was younger – cry by themselves after prison visits.

“That was the scariest thing, even though I’ve seen people get stabbed in there.”

At 15-years-old Hermenegildo, known as Hermen, fell in with the “wrong crowd”.

Spurred on by jealousy, he jumped at a chance to make some money by selling cannabis, and later harder drugs, outside his school.

By the age of 18, he attempted to get a legitimate job and leave his past behind but failed to find work due to his criminal record.

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The lad, from Collyhurst, added: “It was affecting me. I had all of those little warnings.

“Since I was getting knocked back from jobs, I thought I may as well carry on with crime. The temptation kept me in. I didn’t die or get a prison sentence so I couldn’t stop.

“I’d get the odd job that I didn’t want to do or like but the money wasn’t the same.”

At his peak, Hermen was earning around £3,000 a week.

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As part of a gang called the Manchester Boys, or Manx, Hermen started running heroin and crack cocaine from Manchester to Southampton.

Slowly, members of the gang were being arrested one by one – but it still didn’t stop Hermen and the operation continued for four years.

Police had the entire group under observation. Hermen was in Southampton when he was stopped by an officer.

At the age of 22, Hermen was arrested and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin and money laundering.

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He was sentenced to six-and-a-half years but only served three at Strangeways prison. He was released just before the pandemic in 2020.

Once out of jail, Hermen was determined not to return to a life of crime.

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He borrowed £800 from his family and bought himself a van so he could set up his own removal company, GOGO Same Day.

Alongside running his business, Hermen also holds workshops at secondary schools and prisons across Greater Manchester called 2nd Chance Programme.

The course is designed to inspire children and ex-offenders to start again by building life skills and utilising hidden talents such as cooking, singing, problem-solving, acting and more.

The aim is to reduce the chance of reoffending or challenging behaviour in schools.

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