Mexican Drug Cartels Recruit in US Prisons
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With Mexican cartels sending massive amounts of drugs across the border, and many traffickers landing in US prisons, "prison has become like a job fair," a prisoner tells The Fix. In a recent federal indictment in Little Rock, Arkansas, Mohammed "Mo" Martinez, who is serving a federal prison sentence for a drug case in Texas, is charged with recruiting his fellow inmates to distribute cocaine for the Gulf Cartel. The prisoner tells us this is common and happening in prisons "all over the country." "A lot of lower level cartel guys are getting cased up and hit with 20 to 30 year sentences," he explains, "Once in prison they start looking for reliable guys who can move drugs for them, preferably ones that are getting out soon. They give them a number to call and boom, their connections get 50 kilos shipped to them." And some cartel bosses will continue to manage their hires while behind bars. In the Little Rock case, Martinez allegedly put his recruits in touch with his mother, Idalia Ramos Rangel, a high-ranking female member of the Gulf Cartel who is now a fugitive in Mexico. At one point in 2010, Martinez called one of his recruits from prison to complain that he hadn't paid for cocaine that was delivered, warning him: "You owe Big Momma money." Despite the risks, many inmates are tempted by the prospect of paid work after they get out. "You get to know these dudes and literally get the connect of a lifetime. It's like a family business with them," the prisoner says, "They can hook you up with their brother, mother, cousin or nephew. It's crazy. I'm getting out soon and this Mexican doing 20 years told me he could hook me up with 20 kilos of coke when I got home, it's very tempting."