From suburban kid to imprisoned drug kingpin to successful author
03/03/2016 11:01 am PST
How does a kid who grew up in the suburbs with two loving parents end up in a cell next to murderers and rapists? It's a question Seth Ferranti used to ask himself all the time. So he decided to write down his some of his thoughts. That decision changed his life forever.
"I was an honor roll student, I got good grades, I went to church," said Ferranti.
Ferranti grew up in a nice neighborhood in Fairfax, Virginia.
"My mom had visions of me going to Harvard and achieving significantly, academically, even when I was a kid," said Ferranti.
But he never quite made it to college. Instead, he found himself in prison with the title of "drug kingpin" and a 25-year sentence.
At the tender age of 13, what Seth wanted to do was drugs, and soon he became really good at it.
"I found that I could be the number one bad boy, I kind of liked it. Within a year I had completely reversed from who I was and what I was doing and immersed myself in this drug culture," said Ferranti.
In five short years, he was moving stash and cash across state lines.
"By the time I was 19 I was supplying 15 colleges in five states with marijuana and LSD," said Ferranti. "I might owe the dude 80 or 100 grand so then when I get all the money, I take him his money."
Pot and acid provided Ferranti a substantial income stream.
"I was probably getting a couple hundred pounds of week a month and I was getting anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 hits of acid and I was probably making about 20- to 30-grand a month," said Ferranti
But like many dope dealers before him, his arrogance would eventually lead to his downfall. Feeling a little too high on his own success, the young dealer soon came to the attention of the Drug Enforcement Agency.
"I thought I was too smart to get caught, I thought I could do it, not forever, but I had a goal: I wanted to be a cash millionaire by the time I was 25," said Ferranti.
Instead he crashed hard after a federal sting and faced up to 25 years in federal prison on a first-time offense. Suddenly the big score wasn't so appealing. Neither was a cold prison cell.
"So basically I came up with this plan in my mind, I was like, 'You know what? I'm not going to deal with this, I'm going to take off,'" said Ferranti. "I decided to become a fugitive. I faked my death on the river at a National Park right outside of D.C. I planned it all out, I wrote a suicide note, I staged the whole event."
Ferranti tossed his clothes and wallet in the river, then told tourists walking nearby he saw someone plunge into the icy depths. He planned everything perfectly -- except for the place where he was supposed to have jumped.
"As it turns out I faked my suicide on the wrong side of the dam, and the area where I committed my suicide they dragged the river and they didn't find a body, so they declared my suicide a hoax," said Ferranti.
He took off for California and landed on the U.S Marshals Most Wanted Fugitives list. He ended up in Texas, trafficking drugs once again. But two years later his luck ran dry when cops busted him again and there was nowhere to run.
At 22 years old, Ferranti found himself facing 20-plus years for dealing, and another 10 for flying the coop.
"It was like culture shock," said Ferranti. "Going to prison, I mean, I was real wide-eyed, you know, at the same time I'm trying to be cool.
"You draw a line in the sand and you be polite and assertive and you let everybody know, 'Look man, if you cross this line, I'm going to get violent,'" said Ferranti.
He learned to survive by doing what he did best: smuggling drugs.
"I would get girls to bring me weed and put it in a balloon, and they kiss you and they pass it through your mouth and then you swallow it," said Ferranti
He also quickly learned how to make the right kind of friends.
"I'm hanging out with Mafiosos and Mexican gang-bangers," said Ferranti. "I was known as the guy who could make stuff happen."
It took almost 10 years before he realized he could actually make stuff happen for himself. He began taking college correspondence courses, earning his master's degree and writing about life behind bars.
"That became my new addiction," said Ferranti.
Instead of dealing drugs, he started selling stories for The Daily Beast, The Fix and Vice, as "Soulman Seth" and "Gorilla Convict."
"I was writing about what was going on, I was writing about drugs coming into prison, I was writing about smuggling methods," said Ferranti.
The inside scoop got him thrown into solitary confinement. When he got out of "The Hole," he suddenly realized there were salacious stories all around him.
He consulted with fellow criminals, and made sure never to misquote anyone.
"If that happens in prison, they're not going to file a lawsuit or anything like that," said Ferranti. "They're going to come with a shank and stab you."
Seth served 21 years. He credits a woman who later became his wife as the reason he's made a successful transition from prison life. She stood by his side, helping him publish 20 books, which have sold more than 25,000 copies.
"It seems like just a big blur, all those years," said Ferranti. "She made that possible so I had a career from the penitentiary."
From criminal drug kingpin into a publishing powerhouse and a full-time author, Seth Ferranti says even though he's already lived several lives, he's got a few more to go.
"I haven't done 10 percent of what I want to do," said Ferranti. "This is only the beginning."