Our correspondent “Leather” is currently serving a sentence because of charges related to a family dispute, subsequent warrants, and the labyrinthian carceral state in general. Leather was previously incarcerated at the Orleans Parish Prison but has recently been transferred to a facility in Ferriday. The following has been transcribed (with minimal edits for clarity and format) from handwritten letters. Because of barriers that restrict and complicate communication with people in prison, we are unable to independently corroborate claims herein.
Contraband in Prison
This article is gonna be a real challenge because I’m a convict, or what they call a street n*%?* so some convicts might try and say I’m ratting, snitching, giving up the game. Because the game is to be sold, not told. But first and foremost I’m a journalist, so here it goes.
The Louisiana prison system is crazy. The amount of contraband in this system you wouldn’t believe. I mean we have everything, phones and drugs. I’m talking about iPhones, Galaxies, touch screens, you name it we got it. So we’re on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, POF, Tindr, man you name it we’re on it. Of course having a phone is contraband and against every D.O.C. rule for so many reasons. The main reason is it’s a breach of security, because you can send a hit from one jail to another. Not just that, there’s guys in here running gangs, drug operations, the cartel is one group conducting business all over the world by using cell phones. But the mystery here to me is how they get into the system.
There’s also an abundance of drugs, mojo, cocaine, heroin, meth, and tobacco. I mean, we walk around the dorm smoking like it’s legal. It makes me wonder who’s in the control booth watching us, considering since I’ve been here there’s been one person stabbed to death and and that guy died because no one was watching the cameras or they didn’t react while the two men were fighting.
Now the reason why contraband is in such abundance is because it’s big business. The people running this jail are making major money off of the contraband coming in this jail. There’s no way in the world you can tell me they don’t know what’s going on. You can walk in any dorm here at Concordia Parish Jail at any time and smell the smoke. Now what they don’t want you to know is that the officers are bringing the drugs in.
The main drug on this compound is mojo (artificial weed). There’s two kinds of mojo: paper mojo and grass mojo. The paper mojo was easy to smuggle in the jail because it was paper sprayed with some kind of chemical, so you could simply get your people to mail it, but the jail stopped that real fast (I think because they wasn’t getting a cut). Now the second way is a little more complicated and costs a little more money (and guts). Here’s how it works: Find a deputy who’s friendly and start talking to him or her and simply ask do they want to make some real money? They already know what time it is. It’s not illegal to ask that question. Besides, everybody knows what deputies are willing to run. Now if he says yeah, he might throw you a price to run. He just took the bait. Now all you have to do is give them your people’s number who’s already been filled in. Now let’s say your people have a half pound of mojo, all they have to do is set up a meeting place. They’ll have to drive from New Orleans to Ferriday or Mississippi or wherever they decide to make the drop. Once your people drive out here with the package and the payment of maybe $1,000, they pass it to the deputy, and he brings it right to you. Now the guys in here who are smart get their package put together like this: 4 packs of Bugler’s, 1/2 pound of mojo, maybe 14 grams of meth, all put in one compressed package.
Now it might seem like a lot of money to some people, and it is. But you have to realize how much money you stand to make. For example, cigarettes cost $3 for a roll-up. If you get one whole cigarette out of a pack like a Kool, Newport, or Marlboro it costs $10 for that (off one what we call “free-world” cigarette). Now off that one free-world cigarette (a joe) you can make maybe six or seven roll-ups. Now off a pack of Bugler’s you can make almost 150 roll-ups. At $3 a piece that’s almost $500 off one pack of Bugler’s. That only cost your people on the outside maybe $5. That’s almost half of what you spent to pay off your runner (the deputy) and you still have three packs of smokes left. Now you still have 1/2 pound of mojo (8 oz.) and 14 grams of meth to break down and sell. Can you imagine what you can make off the whole package? Just off the cigarettes you can make around $2500. You’ve already doubled your money.
Now you can see why these deputies run contraband. They only make around $12 an hour, 80 hours every two weeks. That’s only $960 every two weeks. Now the mojo is sold $25 a ball (a medium size joint) and out of each gram of mojo you get maybe six or seven balls, and a stick of mojo cost $10 and out of a ball of mojo you can get seven or eight depending on how you roll ‘em. that’s 70 or 80 bucks right there. I figure there’s about 224 grams in a half a pound of mojo. You do the math. Off 8 oz. of mojo you can make around $15,000 and off the meth $3,000 and the cigarettes $2,500. I know it’s hard to believe but this is the kind of money being made right here in this jail and this is a small private unit. Now this is around $20,000 easy but the person who gets the pack has to split with the people in his crew. You can’t operate alone. There’s other inmates who are waiting to jack you, so you gotta have a team.
Now the method of payment is Green Dot and Cash App. Most people use Cash App, why? It’s just easier. Let’s say I want to buy a ball of mojo. I would have to call my people on the outside, tell them to send me a Cash App for $25, tell them the Cash App info, and for anybody who’s ever used Cash App you know once you send the money it only takes, say two minutes and the money is there. Now you get your mojo, meth, or cocaine. It’s just that simple to get drugs in the system. It’s been going on for a long time. Now there’s other ways to get drugs in here, riskier ways, like you could have your people drive out here to the jail with a package, but it takes a lot of balls and perfect timing. But I’ve seen it done. Your people can drive around and around the jail until they see you at the commissary or on the yard, jump out of the car, and throw it over the fence. This is much riskier because if the deputies catch you, they get you, the package, and whoever they catch in the car is going to jail.
It’s much different than back in the days and before the pandemic, because before the pandemic your people would just visit you and (a female) would put it up their “well you know” in fingers of rubber gloves. Now this was nasty but this is how it was done. Your people would fill the finger or fingers up with whatever drug go up their cavity once they get in the compound, go to the bathroom, pull it out, and pass it to you. And once we get it, we know what guards search (and who don’t). If it’s a guard that’s new or one who really checks, then you have to know how to go up or (check). Once you’re past the guard and wa-la, you’re in there. Get to your cell and retrieve the drugs and you’re ready to get high or sell your drugs. Even then the guards knew what was going on because you could smell the smoke, I mean all in the hallway. And you can tell when people are high on mojo, people are flopping. (Floppin’ = when a person starts hallucinating, seeing things that aren’t there, running around afraid of their shadow, they see Jesus, floppin’ on the floor like a fish.)
So they know when there’s drugs on the compound and it ain’t hard to pin-point who’s bringing the drugs in. Beside jail being full of rats, the guards all know who the key players are. Now I’ve been in other prisons in other states and there are no drugs allowed. For example, in a Texas prison where I was locked up for two years, I never once smelled cigarettes, mojo, weed, not one time, because I know for a fact that at the first sign of contraband the shake-down unit are on their way to every dorm on the compound with the dogs. It’s because most prisons don’t tolerate any contraband, they have very strict rules about contraband, and if caught it’s more than likely you’re getting re-booked. But here if you’re caught with contraband you might get sent to the hole for three days and then you’re right back in the same dorm, that’s it. We’ve already had several high-ranking officers fired for bringing contraband on the compound. Just a couple months ago, one of the deputies was fired for bringing phones into the jail. Now he wasn’t working alone, he had several other officers and inmates working with him. He was a piece of work, because one of the inmates that worked for him had a considerable amount of money on his Cash App. I heard he had $13,000 in his account. Now what the deputy would do is he would bring phones on the compound and sell them for around $350, bring them to his crew. In every dorm there’s an alpha male, he’d bring them the phones and they would sell the phones for $450 to $800. And he did the same thing with the drugs. But when things didn’t go the deputy’s way he would shake them down and drain their Cash App. How he got their password is he would threaten them, saying he’s gonna plant something on them, a knife or other contraband, if they didn’t cooperate. After he takes their phone he would sell it to someone else.
[Eventually] D.O.C. stepped in and put a new warden and changed a lot. It’s a lot better than it was but there’s still contraband, just not as much. Now all the prices have gone up. It’s still here but it’s not like it was.