François Chiappe, the fearsome Corsican capo-mafia who inspired the famous film The French Connection in 1971 died in a geriatric home in the Argentine province of Cordoba last February, according to reports in the Sunday press.
Chiappe, who was 88 and suffered senile dementia, was living at the elderly home since last December. Nicknamed “thick lips” or “Marcel the Corsican” he begun his crime rampage in 1947 with a bank robbery.
This was followed by drug trafficking, organized prostitution, racketeering, trading in weapons and smuggling operating from Marseilles to United States.
In the late fifties he became a member of the terrorist Organization du Armée Secret, OAS, which fought against the independence of Algiers from France, and was accused of specializing in torturing prisoners.
Born to a poor family in Corsica Chiappe joined the French Army in 1937, and was taken prisoner in 1940, when allegedly he became a Gestapo collaborator, according to a non official biography.
He arrived in Argentina as a stow-away by sea in 1965 and a few years later was imprisoned for an armed robbery at a bank. However in 1973, on the return of civilian rule to Argentina and when political prisoners and guerrillas were set free, he walked away among the crowd. He was later accused of involvement with right wing hit squads that proliferate in Argentina in the seventies.
But he never returned to jail and moved to the sierras of Cordoba where he lived, apparently peacefully, with his Argentine wife. Although he arrived in Argentina as an illegal immigrant at the moment of registering at the elderly home his relatives showed an Argentine passport to his name.