Cornbread Mafia

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The "Cornbread Mafia" was an organized crime syndicate based in Marion and Washington Counties in Kentucky. They first became known to the general public in June 1989 when federal prosecutors revealed that 20 men were arrested for organizing a marijuana trafficking ring that stretched across the midwest.

Origin of the name[edit]

The name was first used by law enforcement when they realized the scope of the organization. The name was part of an effort to invoke the RICO statute, adding time to everyone's sentence and allowing the government to seize the group's assets.


Beginning with "The Minnesota 17", 70 Kentuckians were accused of growing 182 tons of "cornbread" on 29 farms in 10 states, including Minnesota,[1] Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska,[2] Missouri and Kansas,[3] which federal prosecutors considered to be the "largest domestic marijuana producing organization in the nation."[4]

By the end of 1991, prosecutors had arrested more than 100 members of the Cornbread Mafia, mostly from Lebanon, Kentucky.[5]

For much of the 1980s, the Cornbread Mafia was reported upon by photojournalist Steve Lowery[6] of The Lebanon Enterprise, many of whose photographs are in the book.[clarification needed]

By 2007, the term "cornbread mafia" had come to mean general Southern-style corruption.[7] There is also a song by Molly Hatchet called Cornbread Mafia (on the Kingdom of XII album) and a now-defunct band that called itself Cornbread Mafia.[8]

Johnny Boone[edit]

The most notable member of the Cornbread Mafia was and is Johnny Boone, he was the ringleader of the Minnesota-based "cornbread" ring, Boone was busted in October, 1987, for which he served about 15 years in prison. In June 2008, police discovered Boone growing 2,421 "cornbread" seedlings on his farm outside of Springfield, Kentucky in Washington County. If arrested, Boone would likely serve life in prison without parole because the bust would be his third federal strike under the Three Strikes Law. Consequently, Boone became a fugitive[9] and the subject of a segment of America's Most Wanted.[10][11] Johnny Boone has two Facebook fan pages with greater than 2,500 supporters each.[12] There has also been a song written saluting Johnny Boone.[13]


Further reading[edit]

  • Higdon, James. Cornbread Mafia: A Homegrown Syndicate's Code Of Silence And The Biggest Marijuana Bust In American History. ISBN 978-0762788439.