George Jacob Jung
August 6, 1942
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||May 5, 2021 (aged 78)|
Weymouth, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Other names||Boston George, El Americano|
|Occupation||Drug trafficker and smuggler|
|Criminal penalty||70 years' imprisonment|
George Jacob Jung (August 6, 1942 – May 5, 2021), nicknamed Boston George and El Americano, was an American drug trafficker and smuggler who was a major figure in the cocaine trade in the United States in the 1970s and early 1980s. Jung and his partner Carlos Lehder smuggled cocaine into the United States for the Colombian Medellín Cartel. Jung was sentenced to 70 years in prison in 1994 on conspiracy charges, but was released in 2014. Jung was portrayed by Johnny Depp in the biopic Blow (2001).
George Jung was born on August 6, 1942, in Weymouth, Massachusetts, to Frederick Jung, who owned a small business, and Ermine (née O'Neill) Jung. In high school, Jung was a star football player and was described by his classmates as "a natural leader", but was charged by an undercover police officer for solicitation of prostitution. After graduating in 1961 from Weymouth High School, Jung briefly attended the University of Southern Mississippi, where he considered studying advertising, but dropped out. Jung began recreationally using marijuana and sold a portion of everything he bought to break even.
In 1967, after meeting with a childhood friend, Jung realized the enormous profit potential represented by smuggling the cannabis he bought in California back to New England. Jung initially had his stewardess girlfriend transport the drugs in her suitcases on flights. In search of even greater profits, he expanded his operation to flying the drugs in from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, using airplanes stolen from private airports on Cape Cod and professional pilots. At the height of this enterprise, Jung and his associates were reportedly making $250,000 a month (equivalent to over $1.7 million in 2021 dollars, adjusting for inflation). This ended in 1974, when Jung was arrested in Chicago for smuggling 660 pounds (300 kg) of marijuana. He had been staying at the Playboy Club, where he was to meet a connection who would pick up the marijuana. The connection was arrested for heroin smuggling; however, he informed the authorities about Jung to get a reduced sentence. After arguing with the judge about the purpose of sending a man to prison "for crossing an imaginary line with a bunch of plants", Jung was sent to the Federal Correctional Institution, Danbury.
At FCI Danbury in March 1974 during his marijuana trafficking sentence, Jung's cellmate was Carlos Lehder, a young German Colombian man who introduced Jung to the dominant and powerful international drug-trafficking Medellín Cartel; in return, Jung taught Lehder about smuggling. When they were released in 1976, Jung and Lehder smuggled large quantities of cocaine into the United States by joining forces with Pablo Escobar, and they made millions of dollars.
In 1994, Jung was arrested with 1,754 pounds (796 kg) of cocaine in Topeka, Kansas. He later pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy and received a 70-year sentence; his sentence was reduced to nearly 20 years after he testified against his ex-partner Carlos Lehder. Jung was incarcerated at Otisville Federal Prison (Medium Security), in Mount Hope, New York, then was transferred to Federal Correctional Institution, Fort Dix (Low Security), New Jersey, then was transferred to Federal Correctional Institution, La Tuna (Low Security), in Anthony, Texas.
Release and death
Jung was due to be released in November 2014, but was released early, on June 2, 2014, after nearly 20 years. In 2016, he was jailed for a federal supervision violation, then released from a halfway house in 2017.
In September 2014, Jung contributed to the novel Heavy with T. Rafael Cimino, nephew of film director Michael Cimino. Heavy is a fictional story about Jung escaping from a Cuban prison and fleeing to Guatemala.
- Seelye, Katharine Q. (May 9, 2021). "George Jung, Who Made Millions Smuggling Cocaine, Dies at 78" – via NYTimes.com.
- Graham, Renee (July 7, 1993). "Weymouth's Wayward Son". The Boston Globe. p. 49.
- Pearson, Patricia (July 24, 1993). "Up and down on a mountain of cocaine". The Globe and Mail.
- "Frontline interview with George Jung". Frontline. PBS. 2000. Retrieved November 10, 2007.
- "George Jung released: Cocaine smuggler played by Johnny Depp in Blow". The Independent. June 3, 2014.
- "Blow sequel book Heavy". TMZ. June 6, 2014.
- Michallon, Clémence (May 5, 2021). "George Jung death: Drug smuggler who inspired film 'Blow' dies aged 78". The Independent. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
- Porter, Bruce (1993). BLOW: How a Small-Town Boy Made $100 Million with the Medellin Cocaine Cartel and Lost It All. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-017930-4.
- "Official Website".
- "cocaine cowboys: Documentary about the Medellin Cartel". rakontur.com. Retrieved April 30, 2014.
- "George Jung – Interview with Ted Demme, Part 1". awesomestories.com. Retrieved April 30, 2014.
- Dominic Streatfeild (June 21, 2000). "Interview with George Jung". Archived from the original on October 14, 2013. Retrieved April 30, 2014.