The Cornbread Mafia was a organized crime syndicate based in Marion County, Kentucky, first made public in June, 1989, when federal prosecutors revealed that 70 men, mostly from Marion County, but also two adjacent counties, Nelson and Washington, were arrested for organizing a marijuana trafficking ring that stretched across the midwest.
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 marijuana on 29 farms in 10 states, including Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas, which federal prosecutors considered to be the "largest domestic marijuana syndicate in American history."
By 2007, the term "cornbread mafia" had come to mean general Southern-style corruption. There is also a song by Molly Hatchet called Cornbread Mafia and a now-defunct band that called itselfCornbread Mafia.