Jean Lafitte (c. 1780 – c. 1823) was a French pirate and privateer in the Gulf of Mexico in the early 19th century. He and his elder brother, Pierre, spelled their last name Laffite, but English-language documents of the time used "Lafitte". The latter has become the common spelling in the United States, including for places named after him.
Lafitte is believed to have been born either in Basque-France or the French colony of Saint-Domingue. By 1805, he operated a warehouse in New Orleans to help disperse the goods smuggled by his brother Pierre Lafitte. After the United States government passed the Embargo Act of 1807, the Lafittes moved their operations to an island in Barataria Bay, Louisiana. By 1810, their new port was very successful; the Lafittes had a profitable smuggling operation and also started to engage in piracy.
Though Lafitte warned the other Baratarians of a possible military attack on their base of operations, a United States naval force successfully invaded in September 1814 and captured most of Lafitte's fleet. Later, in return for a legal pardon for the smugglers, Lafitte and his comrades helped General Andrew Jackson defend New Orleans from the British in the final battle of the War of 1812.
The Lafittes became spies for the Spanish during the Mexican War of Independence and moved to Galveston Island, Texas, where they developed a pirate colony they called Campeche. Lafitte continued attacking merchant ships as a pirate around Central American ports until he died circa 1823, trying to capture Spanish vessels. Speculation about his life and death continues among historians.
Source: Wikipedia, "Jean Lafitte", available under the CC-BY-SA License.