|Territory||France, several countries in Latin America and North Africa|
|Criminal activities||Racketeering, weapons trafficking, gambling, drug trafficking, assault, theft, loan sharking, fraud, bankruptcy, blackmailing, bribery, extortion, car bombing, smuggling, infiltration of politics, kidnapping, money laundering, murder, corruption, tax evasion|
|Allies||American and Russian mafia, Cosa Nostra, Ndrangheta, and Triad|
The Corsican mafia is an umbrella term for criminal groups originating from Corsica. The Corsican mafia is an influential organized crime structure, operating in France, Russia, and many African and Latin American countries. One of the most important groups of the Corsican mafia is the Brise de Mer gang.
The Union Corse and the French Connection Era
For more details on this topic, see Union Corse.
Union Corse was the general name given by American authorities to the major Corsican gangs who organized the French Connection, a heroin trade between France and the United States from the 1960s to the early 1970s. The Corsican gang, led by the Guerini brothers (Antoine and Barthélémy, nicknamed "Mémé"), were exempt from prosecution in Marseilles from the 1950s to the 1960s. The Guerini brothers were trafficking opium derivatives that were illegally imported from French Indochina using the services of the Messageries Maritimes, a French merchant shipping company.
During World War II, the Guerini brothers had sided with the Gaullist part of the French Resistance, while the pre-war crime kings of Marseilles, Paul Carbone and François Spirito, had sided with Vichy and the Germans. In 1947, Marseilles had a communist mayor, Jean Christofol, who was backed by the trade unions. He was popular among longshoremen, transportation workers, and dockworkers. He was opposed by socialist candidate Gaston Defferre, who later became mayor of Marseilles for almost three decades. In the coming Cold War both the center-left French government and the US tried to fight communist influence in Marseilles while occasionally employing illegal means to further their goal. Marseilles was, at the time, the main trading port of the French colonial empire. The Guerini gang was employed to disrupt union and electoral gatherings, back strikebreakers and support US-funded non-communist trade unions.
The Corsican mafia today
The end of the French Connection caused the disbandment of Corsican clans involved in the heroin trade. However, the evolution of the Corsican Mafia has continued in several illegal activities (hold-ups, racketeering, casinos, illegal slot machines, various drug dealing and prostitution).
From the 1980s to the end of 2000s, the Corsican mafia was split into two major groups; the Brise de Mer, based in Northern Corsica, and the Colonna clan (also named "Jean Jé Colonna's family"), based in Southern Corsica. A violent internal conflict troubled the Corsican mafia in 2007, resulting in around 102 murders on the island of Corsica. This conflict caused the fall of these two groups and the rise of new Corsican gangs.
Today, the Corsican mafia consists of multiple families, allies, and rivals. Known groups in the Corsican mafia are the Venzolasca gang (nickname in reference to the village of Venzolasca, in northern Corsica, which are from key members of the gang), considered the Brise de Mer successors. The "Petit Bar" gang (also called the "Tiny Bar"), the Valinco mobsters, and the Corsican mob of Marseilles are also active.
Known activities of the Corsican mafia
- Money laundering
- Drug trafficking
- Arms trafficking
- Corporate crime
- Tax evasion
- Contract killing
- Casinos and gambling
- Political corruption
- Usury and loansharking
Popular culture references
- The French film A Prophet (2009) shows the gradual rise of a young prisoner, cornered by the leader of the Corsican gang who rules the prison.
- The French television series Mafiosa references a Corsican gang led by a woman.
- In the film American Gangster, the Corsican mafia attempt to murder Frank Lucas after he puts them out of business through his monopoly on the heroin trade.
- Mireille Bouquet from the anime series Noir (2001) is a surviving member of a family once involved with the Corsican mafia.
- An extensive French study called "Les Parrains Corses" by J. Follorou and V. Nouzille explains the history of Corsican mafia.
- Ian Fleming's novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service is set against a background of Union Corse activities.
- "Corsica Organized Crime On The Rise". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
- Follorou, Jacques; Nouzille, Vincent (2004). Les parrains corses. Paris: Fayard. ISBN 9782213617596. OCLC 418390622.
- Follorou, Jacques (2013). La guerre des parrains corses. Paris: Flammarion. ISBN 9782081254916. OCLC 835314889.
- "Suspected boss of Corsican mob reported dead" - 2006 USA Today article
- "Corsicans prisoners faxed free" - 2001 BBC Online article
- "Future of Paris gambling clubs under threat" - 2011 Daily Telegraph article
- -The Observer, Saturday 20 October 2012.