Ron Chepesiuk’s Black Caesar: The Rise and Disappearance of Frank Matthews, Kingpin (June 1, 2013) is about Frank ‘Black Caesar’ Matthews, (born February 13, 1944) “is a major heroin and cocaine trafficker who operated throughout the eastern seaboard during the late 1960s and early 1970s” (Wikipedia). Frank Matthews is originally from Durham, North Carolina. There are still many living people, around Durham, North Carolina and elsewhere, from various walks of life, who know Frank Matthews. They know him as a classmate, a neighbor, a co-worker, a peer, etcetera… Some still refer to Frank Matthews by his nickname, “PeeWee.”
Frank Matthews, a fugitive from justice from 1973 charges, has been called, “the biggest drug kingpin and gangster ever” (Youtube.com, Uploaded by Al Profit, June 3, 2012). Frank Matthews has no convictions but fled while under indictment for drug trafficking.
Frank Matthews’ criminal entrepreneurship tilted toward what may be termed a variety of African American chauvinism.
“Matthews would also become known for hosting a major African-American drug dealers ‘summit’ in Atlanta in 1971. The attendee list, gathered by DEA surveillance, was a who’s who of most major African-American and Hispanic dealers throughout the country; they were all there to discuss how to break the Italian Mafia’s control of heroin importation so that blacks could not have to rely on them for survival in the future” (Wikipedia).
The Frank Matthews drug trafficking network grew throughout the United States. By the early 1970s, the Matthews organization was handling multimillion-dollar loads of heroin in over 21 states. According to the DEA, “Matthews controlled the cutting, packaging, and sale of heroin in every major East Coast city” (Wikipedia).
“In 1973, the DEA was set to arrest Matthews. Nothing is known of his disappearance, however, he was arrested in Durham, NC – paid bail then disappeared and others say he fled the scene before the arrest. At the time, Matthews allegedly took 15–20 million dollars with him and fled the country, and was never seen again” (Ibid.).
What happened to Frank “Black Caesar” Matthews? I argue that Frank Matthews was whacked by the Union Corse, i.e. the Corsican Mafia, his major drug connection. What is Corsica?
“Corsica (/ˈkɔrsɪkə/; French: Corse [kɔʁs]; Corsican and Italian: Corsica) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea belonging to France…Although the island is separated from the continental mainland by the Ligurian Sea and is closer to Italy than to the French mainland, politically Corsica is part of Metropolitan France” (Wikipedia).
“It was the same Corsicans with whom Matthews would collaborate, making him an important broker between the Corsicans who manufactured the heroin and the Cubans who were making Miami the major port of entry for French Connection heroin and cocaine from South America” (Black Caesar, p. 37).
Here are the reasons that lead me to this conclusion.
Frank Matthews was valued by the Corsican Mafia as a person who could make it possible for them to distribute heroin and cocaine to blacks and to the greater U.S. society, from the black community. When Frank Matthews was indicted for conspiracy to traffic controlled substances, his value to the Corsican Mafia sharply declined to its lowest ebb. As a fugitive from justice, Frank Matthews could no longer serve that purpose.
The upper echelon of the Corsican Mafia considered the differences between Frank Matthews and the Mafia’s rank and file to be too great to ignore. Frank Matthews could not be trusted. But, Frank Matthews apparently under estimated the extent to which the Corsican Mafia would weigh those differences.
Frank Matthews was flamboyant. Corsican Mafia policy makers did not like flamboyance. They felt it tended to draw unnecessary and unwanted attention. It draws attention to Corsican Mafia criminal enterprise. In short, flamboyant operatives put everyone and everything at risk. Frank Matthews already stood out enough from the rank and file mean without his flamboyant tendency!
The policy makers of the Corsican Mafia saw that, without their help, sooner or later, the FBI was likely to apprehend Frank Matthews. The policy makers of the Corsican Mafia saw that, without their help, sooner or later, Frank Matthews would be victimized by rogue underworld bandits. Even with the help of the Corsican Mafia, Frank Matthews’ future was dismal. He was more valuable to the underworld dead than alive.
Frank Matthews was not inducted into the Corsican Mafia.
“Corsica is one of the few regions of France that retains its own language in everyday usage: Corsican, which is more closely related to Italian than to French. However, since its takeover by France in the 18th century, French has dominated the media and commerce, and today it is estimated that only 10% of Corsica’s population speak Corsican natively, with only 50% having some sort of proficiency in Corsican. Some linguists classify the Corsican language as belonging to the Italo-Dalmatian language group, while others classify it as a Southern Romance group language separate from the Italo-Dalmatian group” (Wikipedia).
In order to be inducted into the Union Corse, one must be Corsican.
Frank Matthews belonged to a distinctly different race/ethnicity. Frank Matthews did not speak French, he did not speak Italian. Neither did he speak Corsican. Culturally speaking, Frank Matthews fit in with the Corsicans with the grace of an arthritic knee.
Therefore, after his eventual apprehension, Frank Matthews was likely to turn state’s evidence.
Here is my scenario as to what happened to Frank Matthews.
When the federal government indicted Frank Matthews for conspiracy to sell controlled substances, Frank Matthews had three paramount enemies: the FBI, outlaw competitors and opportunists, the Corsican Mafia. The Corsican Mafia provided an escape plan for Frank Matthews. They provided a Plan “A” as well as a Plan “B.” Frank Matthews was urged to use one of these plans in the event he had to run.
Matthews apparently did not realize that the Corsicans were his biggest enemies. Instead of running from them, Frank Matthews ran to them. He fled the FBI, his potential allies, into the waiting arms of his biggest enemy. If Frank Matthews could do it all over again, he would run to the feds.
When Frank Matthews showed up at their door, the first thing the delighted Corsicans said was, “You’ve done a very good job Frank.” Frank Matthews took a bow. “Were you able to salvage any of the money we made?” “Yes,” was the reply.
The Corsican policy makers were sure to find out where the money was, maybe $15-$20 million. They were certain to assess its accessibility to them. Then the Corsicans expropriated money. They whacked Frank Matthews and disposed of his body in a place that only they can identify…a place better hidden than the money they just took from Matthews while he was still alive.
After Frank Matthews was dead, the 15-20 million dollars he allegedly had with him was redistributed among the made men and associates of the Corsican Mafia who had been confederates.
With no body, no corpus delecti, there is no homicide investigation. Some people can muse to their hearts content that Frank Matthews “beat the U.S. criminal justice system.” Moreover, he is living today as a very wealthy, free man, somewhere in the world under an assumed name. The Corsican Mafia can rest assured that Frank Matthews will never cooperate to their detriment with the U.S. criminal justice system. Finally, the U.S. criminal justice system can close the case, Frank Matthews vs. U.S. Government.