Mexican Drug Cartels Recruit in US Prisons

By Seth Ferranti 05/23/13

Prisons have become a "job fair" for aspiring drug traffickers, an inmate tells The Fix.

A tempting offer. Photo via

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 FixIn 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."

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

After landing on the US Marshals Top-15 Most Wanted list and being sentenced to a 25 year sentence in federal prison for a first-time, nonviolent LSD offense, Seth built a writing and journalism career from his cell block. His raw portrayals of prison life and crack era gangsters graced the pages of Don DivaHoopshype and VICE. From prison he established Gorilla Convict, a true-crime publisher and website that documents the stories that the mainstream media can’t get with books like Prison Stories and Street Legends. His story has been covered by The Washington PostThe Washington Times, and Rolling Stone.

Since his release in 2015 he’s worked hard to launch GR1ND Studios, where true crime and comics clash. GR1ND Studios is bringing variety to the comic shelf by way of the American underground. These groundbreaking graphic novels tell the true story of prohibition-era mobsters, inner-city drug lords, and suburban drug dealers. Seth is currently working out of St. Louis, Missouri, writing for The FixVICEOZY, Daily Beast, and Penthouse and moving into the world of film. Check out his first short, Easter Bunny Assassin at You can find Seth on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.