August 6, 1942 |
|Other names||Boston George|
|Occupation||Drug trafficker and smuggler|
|Serving 60-year sentence, reduced to 2014 release|
|Children||Kristina Sunshine Jung|
|Parents||Frederick Jung and Ermine Jung|
|Conviction(s)||Drug trafficking and smuggling|
George Jacob Jung (born August 6, 1942), nicknamed "Boston George", was a major player in the cocaine trade in the United States in the 1970s and early 1980s. Jung was a part of the Medellín Cartel, which was responsible for up to 89 percent of the cocaine smuggled into the United States. He specialized in the smuggling of cocaine from Colombia on a large scale. His life story was portrayed in the 2001 film Blow, starring Johnny Depp.
George Jung was born to Frederick, a German American, and Ermine (née O'Neill) Jung, in Boston, Massachusetts, then raised in Weymouth, Massachusetts. Though Jung did not excel academically, he was a star football player and was described by his classmates as "a natural leader." His first arrest was solicitation of prostitution to an undercover police officer. After graduating in 1961 from Weymouth High School, Jung went to the University of Southern Mississippi. He studied for a degree in advertising but never completed his studies. Jung began recreationally using marijuana, selling a portion of everything he bought to break even.
In 1967, after meeting with a childhood friend, Jung realized the enormous potential for profits 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 $1.6 million today). 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, and 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 a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut.
Work with Medellín Cartel
At Danbury, Jung's cellmate was Carlos Lehder Rivas, a young German-Colombian man who introduced Jung to the Medellín Cartel; in return, Jung taught Lehder how to smuggle. When Jung was released, they went into business together. Their plan was to fly hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from Pablo Escobar's Colombian ranch to the U.S., and Jung's California connection, Richard Barile, would take it from there. Jung had a security man who would accompany him to the exchanges, where Jung would give the man the keys to a car and half the cocaine, and then leave. A day or two later, they would meet up again and exchange keys to cars.
Jung made millions off the operation as only the middle man. He came up with the idea to steal single-engine airplanes for his transportation and charge $10,000 per kilogram, with five planes going from Colombia to California, carrying 300 kilograms per plane. This translated into $15 million per run for Jung. To avoid 60 percent surcharges[clarification needed], as well as a need to launder his earnings, he kept his money in the national bank of Panama City.
By the late 1970s, Lehder had effectively cut Jung out, by going straight to Barile. Jung continued to smuggle, however, reaping millions in profits.
In 1987, Jung was arrested at his mansion on Nauset Beach, near Eastham, Massachusetts. With his family in tow, he skipped bail, but quickly became involved in another deal in which an acquaintance betrayed him.
After working some "clean" jobs, Jung began working in the drug industry again. In 1994, after reconnecting with his old Mexican cocaine smuggling partner, he was arrested with 1,754 pounds (796 kg) of cocaine in Topeka, Kansas. He pled guilty to three counts of conspiracy, received a 60-year sentence, and was incarcerated at Otisville Federal Prison, in Mount Hope, New York, then was transferred to Federal Correctional Institution, La Tuna, in Anthony, Texas. Jung later testified in the trial of former accomplice Carlos Lehder, receiving a reduction in sentence. According to the Department of Corrections Website, prisoner #19225-004 is currently serving in Federal Correctional Institution, Fort Dix, New Jersey, with a scheduled release of November 27, 2014.
- Blow (2001 biopic about George Jung)
- Cocaine Cowboys (2006 documentary)
- Illegal drug trade in Colombia
- Norman's Cay
- The Wonderland Gang
- "High On Tuna". impfm.com. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
- Graham, Renee (1993-07-07). "Weymouth's Wayward Son". The Boston Globe. p. 49.
- Pearson, Patricia (1993-07-24). "Up and down on a mountain of cocaine". The Globe and Mail.
- "Frontline interview with George Jung". PBS. 2000. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
- "True Crime Authors". History Channel. 2008-03-14.
- "George Jung". sourced from Frontline interview. 2002-01-27. Retrieved 2013-03-10.
- NNDB Tracker
- United States Bureau of Prisons, Inmate Finder
- 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.