Prison Drug Smuggling: The Package Move

By Seth Ferranti 06/27/12

This method involves taking advantage of prison transfers and the postal system, an inmate explains to The Fix.

Not always what it seems. Photo via

Smuggling through the visiting room and tossing drugs over the fence are far from the only ruses responsible for the availability of marijuana, meth and much more inside our prisons. One serving prisoner gives The Fix details of a method that he calls "the package move," which takes advantage of an inmate being transferred from one institution to another. "My homeboy was at FCI McKean and got transferred to FCI Loretto [both in Pennsylvania]," the prisoner tells us. "Before his girl moved from McKean down to Loretto to be closer to him for visits, he decided to do a package move to get some weed and dope in. It was easy because he had the property slip from McKean." When a prisoner gets transferred, the Receiving and Discharge staff are responsible for boxing up his property and forwarding it to his new destination. They have to fill out a property inventory form, date it and give the prisoner a copy to keep as a receipt. This is so that when the prisoner receives his box on the other end, he can make sure all his property is accounted for.

"My homeboy just sent his property form from McKean to his girl, and she got a similar-sized box and filled it up with items listed on the form," the prisoner relates. "Except inside the commissary items like Ritz crackers, Nutty Buddy Bats and Tide, she put weed and heroin. We got high for weeks off that." Unsuspecting prison staff just follow routine. If the box is postmarked like all the others from McKean—and marked with the McKean return address—they assume it comes from the prison. Finding the property slip from McKean inside confirms their assumptions, and the box passes inspection. They process the property and call the prisoner to retrieve it. The package move and variations of it are being worked every day in correctional facilities across the country.

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