George Jung, the inspiration behind Johnny Depp’s character in Ted Demme’s 2001 film, Blow, has been released from behind bars after practically completing his 20-year prison sentence.
Jung is credited with being the first to establish a major pipeline from Colombia to the United States, essentially creating the American cocaine market in the 1970s and ’80s. Jung, nicknamed “Boston George,” was one of the biggest players in the cocaine trade and was believed to be responsible for nearly 90% of the coke in America at the time.
Initially, George Jung was in the business of transporting marijuana from the west coast to Amherst, Mass. once he learned of the demand for it back east. He then realized that getting pot down in Mexico and smuggling it into the States was way more lucrative.
After a turn of events that resulted in Jung getting caught smuggling pot, he was sent to federal prison in Danbury, Conn. but only ended up doing a short stint there. What’s more important is that this would be a major factor in how he was to eventually become such a high profile drug smuggler. Danbury is where Jung was to meet his future cocaine connect as well as learn quite a lot about drug smuggling and money laundering.
In an interview he gave with Frontline back in 2000, Jung said “You could more or less learn anything you wanted to learn in there in reference to illicit activities. It was basically a school. My bunk mate was Carlos Lehder, he said he was from Colombia and he spoke excellent English.” Lehder was to become a Colombian drug lord and founder of the Medellin Cartel.
Jung went on to describe how their partnership was hatched.
“Carlos and I spent close to a year together, working and planning every day…Carlos never ceased, never stopped. He was like a student is, constantly pumping people’s brains about money laundering, about this, about that. About automobiles, about airplanes, about boats. In fact there was a guy in there for smuggling with boats and he spent hours and hours with him learning navigation, and there was a president of a bank in there and he pumped him constantly about the banking system in America and how one can launder money, and he kept files and files on everything. He kept notes constantly.”
At the height of his success as a cocaine dealer, Jung’s lifestyle could put to shame that of even the most famous of Hollywood stars.
“I was a guy who had a lot of money and unlimited access to cocaine and even if I looked like Bela Lugosi I still had the most beautiful women on the planet because everybody at that time, especially women, were in love with cocaine and of course in love with the money — the access to the automobiles, the clothes, the dinners, the lifestyle. Basically I was no different than a rock star or a movie star. I was a coke star.”
It all came crashing down when Jung was sentenced back in 1994 for 60 years in prison.
Even from behind bars, Jung’s celebrity thrived. Besides being the focus of a major motion picture, he has also been featured in a number of true crime programs for television as well as in the documentary Cocaine Cowboys, which details the Medellin Cartel. And whenever Blow is aired on television, Jung’s name becomes a popular internet search item.
Originally scheduled to be released from the Federal Correctional Facility in Fort Dix, New Jersey on Thanksgiving Day 2014, Jung was released early and placed at a halfway house somewhere on the west coast of the U.S.
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