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One-on-One with Lou Ferrante, host of “Inside the Gangster’s Code”

One-on-One with Lou Ferrante, host of “Inside the Gangster’s Code”

| On 11, Apr 2013

Lou Ferrante is a former mafia street boss (from the Gambino family) who has left behind his criminal past. After spending nearly a decade in maximum-security federal prison, Ferrante successfully appealed his conviction and emerged a transformed man, turning a life of illicit notoriety into legitimate business success.


Lou Ferrante at Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City, Philippines.

Ferrante is the host of Discovery en Español’s new series “La Mafia por Dentro” (Inside the Gangster’s Code.) where he exploresdifferent gang cultures, their characters, and their inner workings in El Salvador, the Philippines, New Mexico, Italy, and Poland. These gangs rule the streets from inside prison walls, while running activities from behind bars and controlling the communities living outside.

Dos Lives recently spoke with Lou about the show, his experience visiting the various prisons and his own life since his release.

DL: “Having lived the life yourself, did anything surprise while visiting the different countries and prisons?”

LF: “There were lots of surprises. Though they may have committed the most murders there (El Salvador) they were these warmest guys. Italians and Spanish are a lot alike. They had a warm Latina American culture.”

Ferrante also said he was surprised by the size and magnitude of the prison in the Philippines with 20,000 guys packed into the prison.


Inmates tattoos in Izalco prison, El Salvador.

DL: “Are there different rules or codes that the gangs follow in the different countries?”

LF: “The code changed in different places. Polish mafia forces you to kill so you can’t be a Crown witness. New York mafia doesn’t force you to kill. If you get locked up in the New Mexican jails, you are forced to join the gang.”

DL: Do any of them have wives and kids? How do they feel about not being with their wives and kids?

LF: “[It's] very hard. I grew up with Latin Americans in New York and they all do come from warm families and warm backgrounds. These guys were exactly the same. They were gang members, that was the difference.”

Ferrante shared an experience when he was with Sharky, the leader of the gang in the El Salvador prison. It was Mother’s Day and Sharky “choked up and began crying” when he was visiting with his daughter and wife.

DL: “Did you have security in the prison?”

Loe Ferrante photographed in London 6th December 2012

Loe Ferrante photographed in London 6th December 2012

LF: “We had no security with us. I had a certain amount of trust. I was in Lewisburg, PA and there was a double homicide. Even if you have security in those prisons, if something happens, you’re not getting out…I’m not scared of people. I’m scared of God.”

DL: “Did you offer advice to any of the people?”

LF: “Something really nice happened in Poland” explained Ferrante. An inmate asked him, “I feel like I’m changing, and I’m becoming a nice person. How do you know if it’s for real?”

Ferrante responded, “If you feel it, it’s real. Make sure your actions correspond with your thoughts. Even if you are in jail, you can be a better guy.”

Ferrante explained to Dos Lives that you need to be careful with your actions.

“If you hold a door in prison or open a door, they take it as a weakness and not kindness and they could come to your cell the next day and rape you.”

La mafia por dentro Inside the Gangster’s Code El Salvador Izalco Prision Lou Ferrante

DL: “What would you want the younger generation to take from the show?”

LF: “I want them to see the horrors in prison. Without having to go through the system, they can say, ‘I am going to stop what I’m doing.’”

La Mafia por Dentro is airing in 217 countries on Discovery Network and you can watch it Thursdays at 9 PM ET/PT Discovery en Español.

All images: Credit Discovery en Español.

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