“Pepe Torreblanco is a young man living in Chalco, a town on the south eastern outskirts of Mexico City. Chalco is a dangerous neighbourhood, robbery and violence dominate daily life and the increasing presence of drug cartels creates instability, corruption and fear. Pepe owns a convenience store and is in a gang. Young people organise themselves into gangs for protection and comradery.

I spent six weeks with Pepe, his gang and his family. The gang aspire to live in America, where they believe a better life exists/is accessible. Influenced by Los Angeles gang style they own three American sports tops, which are kept behind Pepe’s store counter to be worn and swapped around on the nights they spend hanging out, drinking in front of the store and on the streets. Pepe and his family work hard, uphold traditions and celebrate significant events.

Violence creates excitement and gang codes provide an identity and social belonging but despite the intimidating backdrop and disenchantment towards their environment, regard for family values, relationships, affection and intimacy strongly prevails.”