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Corsican mafia
Foundedc. 1910s
Founding locationCorsica
Years activec. 1910s–present
TerritoryFrance, North Africa and Latin America
ActivitiesRacketeering, 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
Notable membersList of members

The Corsican mafia is a collective of criminal groups originating from Corsica. The Corsican mafia is closely tied to both the French underworld and the Italian organized crime groups. The Corsican mafia is an influential organized crime structure operating in France, as well as North African and Latin American countries.


The Union Corse and the French Connection era

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The pre-war crime bosses of Marseille, Paul Carbone and François Spirito, collaborated closely with the Milice in Vichy France and the Nazi Gestapo in Occupied France. In World War II, the Corsican mafia led by the Guerini brothers [fr] (Antoine and Barthélémy, nicknamed "Mémé") sided with the anti-communist SFIO faction within the French Resistance.

In 1947, Marseille was the main trading port of the French colonial empire and it had a Marxist-Leninist mayor, Jean Christofol, who was backed by the labour unions for longshoremen, transportation workers, and dockworkers. In the coming Cold War, both the center-left French government and the US fought against Soviet influence in Marseille, while covertly employing illegal means to further that goal: the Guerini gang was employed to disrupt union and electoral gatherings, back strikebreakers and support US-funded anti-Soviet labor unions.

From the 1950s to the 1960s, the Guerini brother were exempt from prosecution in Marseille. The Guerini brothers smuggled opiates from French Indochina using the Messageries Maritimes, a French merchant shipping company.

From the 1960s to the early 1970s the major Corsican organized crime groups were collectively termed Unione Corse by American law enforcement. During the same era, they organized the French Connection, a massive heroin trafficking operation based in Marseille that sold to the American Mafia.

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 the 2000s, violent internal conflicts troubled the Corsican mafia, resulting in around 102 murders on the island of Corsica.[2]

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 of Ajaccio and the Corsican mob of Marseille are also active.

Corsica has a tradition of banditry and criminality similar to the Italian Mezzogiorno, with a multitude of criminal groups made up of a few members to a few dozen members. 25 are awarded according to a 2022 report. Their links with political and economic circles are important, as is their hold on the territory with the racket.

Violence is frequent, Corsica is the region of Europe with the highest homicide rate per inhabitant.[3] The mafia chief François Chiappe, who inspired The French Connection, died in Argentina at the age of 88 due to senile dementia in 2009.[4]

Notable groups

Notable Corsican gangsters

In popular culture


  1. ^ a b c Heroin & The 20th Century Detroit Mafia Scott Burnstein, (1 July 2014) Archived 19 October 2021 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Hinnant, Lori. "Corsica Organized Crime On The Rise". The Huffington Post. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 5 March 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  3. ^ "Bandes criminelles : La Corse cartographiée". April 16, 2009.
  4. ^ "Mafia chief who inspired "The French Connection" dies in Argentina". MercoPress. Archived from the original on 2010-03-24. Retrieved August 8, 2023.

Further reading