Prison Drug Smuggling: The Old Fashioned Way

By Seth Ferranti 07/18/12

Prison inmates are masters at manipulating their guards into bringing them drugs.

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When all else fails, prisoners turn to guards to sneak drugs into them. It's a simple matter of manipulation—and prisoners have mastered this art. "I can tell right away if I can get a C/O to bring in drugs for me," one prisoner tells The Fix. "I start it out with something small, like getting them to let me use their microwave or something. When they get comfortable with that I advance it a little by getting them to give me some of their food from the street. If all that works I will ask them to bring me in some Pizza Hut or McDonald's, nothing major. If they do that I know I got them. They will bring me whatever I want."

Part of a new guard's orientation is meant to teach how prisoners may try to prey on staff members to gain favors or leverage. But despite the precautions, guards still fall victim. They can catch romantic feelings for prisoners too: "My man pushed up on this young rookie C/O. She was green as hell," the prisoner relates. "Pretty, but not too pretty. He laid it on her real smooth, had her bringing him food, chewing gum, jewelry and it wasn't two months later she was bringing in packages for him. He finessed that girl something fierce. She was in love with him."

Guards can bring drugs in easily because they aren't generally subject to searches. As trusted employees, their complicity in smuggling rings largely goes undiscovered—unless they get snitched out by a coworker, or a jealous and bitter prisoner who thinks the C/Os should be bringing stuff into them. They smuggle drugs in lunch boxes, back packs, pockets, or however. And with fees of $500 or more to bring in a package of drugs, some of them are strictly money-motivated. "I've seen a lot of greedy C/Os get busted," the prisoner says. "They just don't know when to stop and they start fucking with the wrong dudes on the pound. Dudes who can't hold their weight and will drop a dime on the C/Os to save their own asses." With all the avenues available—and all the conniving drug addicts incarcerated—prisons are clearly incapable of denying prisoners their drugs.

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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 sethferranti.com. You can find Seth on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.

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