George Jung, the Cocaine Smuggler Who Inspired the Movie "Blow," Just Died
Both loved and hated, one thing’s clear: The man was very good at running drugs.
Published on May 7, 2021

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George Jung, the Massachusetts-born Medellín Cartel associate whose life was the foundation for the movie Blow, passed away in his hometown of Weymouth on Wednesday morning at the age of 78. 

Boston George, or “El Americano,” as Jung came to be known in and out of the United States respectively, helped Pablo Escobar get cocaine into the United States at the height of the Colombian magnate’s power. At the time, Escobar was responsible for trafficking 80 percent of the world’s supply of the drug, including a reported 15 tons a day to the United States. 

“It was the ‘60s ... the country fell in love with cocaine,” Jung says in an unreleased series called Boston George: Famous Without The Fortune (it’s currently shopping a streaming service, if you know of anybody interested.)

“I had taken the outlaw pill and I liked it,” he continues.

That gusto for operating outside the lines of the law won him a certain amount of fans, including the man whose 2001 dramatic cinematic portrayal ensured Jung’s lasting fame. 

“What did he want to be? An outlaw,” says Johnny Depp in the clip for Boston George. “What did he get to be? An outlaw. A very charming outlaw.”

As anyone who saw Depp’s portrayal will remember, Jung began his criminal dealings when he moved to Manhattan Beach, California. Marijuana was the first drug he sold, and was busted with 660 pounds of ganja in Chicago in what would turn out to be only the early stage of his career. While incarcerated for that offense, Jung came into contact with Medellín Cartel cocaine trafficker Carlos Lehder, who Boston George would eventually snitch on in federal court in 1987. 

"He related to me that he was the king of drug transportation, the king of cocaine,” Jung said on the witness stand, telling the jury that Lehder had once sent his own mother on a drug run. 

Jung’s exploits were not always lauded, however. A 1993 New York Times review of the autobiography on which the movie Blow was based compared him to Hitler

Despite his cooperation, Jung still served 20 years in jail. After being released in 2014, parole violations continued to send him back to jail as recently as 2016. 

“In my business, there’s no such thing as you getting out,” Jung told a Massachusetts paper (the same one he had delivered copies of as a kid in Weymouth) in 2017 after that final stint of incarceration. “It’s a part of my life.”

The cause of Jung’s death has not been announced, but TMZ reports that he recently survived liver and kidney failure. He had been in home hospice in the days prior to his death, and was accompanied by his girlfriend Ronda and friend Roger. 

A Twitter account associated with Jung’s name tweeted a line from the movie Blow upon his death; “May the wind always be at your back and the sun upon your face, and the winds of destiny carry you aloft to dance with the stars.” 

Caitlin Donohue
Caitlin Donohue is a Bay Area-raised, Mexico City-based cannabis writer and author of She Represents: 44 Women Who Are Changing Politics and the World. Her weekly show Crónica on Radio Nopal explores Mexican marijuana culture and politics in the prohibition era. Follow Caitlin on IG @byrdwatch.
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