In a time when mafia people used all sorts of means to spread terror and maintain their reign over illegal operations, the French Connection was an organization that spread from Marseille all over the United States. It’s true that mobsters were creative in killing their enemies, even though they didn’t use technical tools such as the ones you can find at

One can only imagine what would have happened if the mafia back then had had access to everything we can buy online now with a couple of clicks, but that’s another story. Going back to this article’s topic, the French Connection was an operation run from Marseille by the Corsican Mafia, which created a global network for trafficking heroin.

How Did It Work?

The system behind the French Operation was a complex one that involved multiple players, but the main principles were quite simple. The morphine base was first extracted from opium produced on poppy fields in Turkey. The substance was then refined and made into heroin using hidden laboratories around the Provence region.

As you can imagine, the drug was hidden in creative ways, usually by using false-bottomed suitcases, or various spots within large American cars. What made this operation very important in mafia history within the United States is the fact that it was one of the main sources of heroin that was distributed around the country.

The US market was huge back then, and around the 1960s, heroin consumption had become a public issue and a massive problem for the US administration. It’s estimated that over four million Americans used heroin, which is a lot even by today’s standards, so this led President Nixon to declare in the early 1970s that drug addiction had become the country’s number one enemy.

The situation escalated to the point where it created diplomatic tensions between the United States and France, as many people believed that the drug operations in Marseille were destroying the US. Various public demonstrations against drug barons in France took place, an aspect that put a lot of strain on transatlantic relations between the two nations.

The Network Behind

While the very usage of the term “French Connection” places the responsibility on one state and confers a certain degree of unity, the system was, in fact, a lot more complex, with actors on both parts of the ocean. It’s true that the drugs were made in France, but it took a lot of support on the US’s side for them to be distributed around the country.

Carmine Galante

One such prominent figure of the whole French Connection operations from the 1960s and 1970s within the United States is the famous Carmine Galante. Known for always carrying a cigar, which led to a lot of nicknames in this area, Galante was no stranger to bloody actions and illegal operations, not only around heroin and drugs, in general, but also in gambling, extortion, loan-sharking, and business infiltration.

Even though Galante spent almost half his life behind bars, he was still a powerful figure within the mafia world. He was eventually assassinated in 1979 at Joe and Mary’s restaurant. On July 12th, he went there and dined with Giuseppe Turano, the two being later joined by Leonard Coppola. Soon after, three men entered the restaurant and shot Galante, leaving behind an image that became iconic which showed him still holding a cigar in his mouth.

However, there’s no way to ignore his contribution to developing drug operations within the United States, which is just one of the things he is most known for.