George Jung – ‘the world’s premier importer of Colombian cocaine….’
From humble beginnings to a multi-millionaire, George Jung has to be one of the most prolific criminals of his kind. At the peak of his drug dealing career in the 80’s, he was responsible for 85% of the cocaine being used in the USA. He would fly ‘blow’ into the States by the tonne, which probably accounted for the steady increase from around 10 million cocaine-users in 1982 to some 22 million by 1985.
George was raised in Massachusetts by a hard working but poor father and a mother who thought only about herself and money. Despite being close to his father, he moved to California in 1968 and soon became known as Boston George by selling pot on Manhattan beach. In less than a year he started importing the weed from Mexico, cutting out the middle man and thereby making huge sums of money. He was, basically, good at what he did.
After 10 years (and a prison sentence), he graduated to smuggling cocaine. This was where he made his fortune, dealing directly with Pablo Escobar and also when he met his wife, Mirtha. They lived in absolute luxury and had a daughter – Kristina Sunshine Jung who was the ‘apple of George’s eye’. When things started to go wrong he tried to get out of the business but ended up losing his $60 million savings stashed in a Panamanian bank.
Unable to support his family, George lost everything – his wife, his daughter and his friends. In an attempt to help support his daughter financially he returned to the drug trade, but wound up with a 60 year prison sentence. His beloved daughter has never visited him.
George Jung is a strangely gentle and personable man and to see him being interviewed in prison one can’t help wondering how such a seemingly ‘nice guy’ could be responsible for such terrible criminal activity. Basically he was a man with a dream – the American dream – and despite his involvement with an undoubtedly vicious circle of people, he seems none the worse for it. He remains sad at the loss of the one thing in his life that he truly treasured – his daughter.
To get a truly sympathetic view of George Jung and his life, watch Johnny Depp’s brilliant and accurate portrayal of him in the compelling 2001 Ted Demme film, “Blow”. The DVD includes an interview with George from the confinement of prison, where one can appreciate how well Depp captured the essence of the man.