George Jung, the notorious drug smuggler whose exploits inspire the movie Blow, has passed away. According to a report by The Boston Globe, Jung passed away on Wednesday, May 5 at his home near Boston, Massachusetts. He was 78 years old.
Jung spent years trafficking drugs into the U.S. and doing business with the infamous Medellin cartel out of Colombia. His crimes were major headline news around the nation at the times they were committed, and later inspired a series of true crime books, and then the movie Blow. Depp played a fictionalized version of Jung in the 2001 film. Jung reportedly moved back to Weymouth, Massachusetts in 2017 to film parts of a documentary about his life, and he never left again.
Jung's official social media pages have now confirmed the news of his passing and posted traditional Irish blessings to send him on his way. They read: "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. 1942-2021."
Jung enjoyed a kind of folk hero status throughout his life, regarded by some as an anti-hero outlaw for supplying fashionable drugs to the U.S. He was in prison in the 1970s when he met Carlos Lehder Rivas, who turned out to be a kingpin in the Medellin cartel. When they were released, the two went into business together.
Federal authorities in the U.S. regarded Jung as a high-ranking member of the cartel itself in the mid-1990s. They estimated that Medellin supplied 80 percent of the cocaine used in the U.S. in the 1980s — at a time when the drug's popularity was skyrocketing. Jung's influence spanned Florida, California and international markets.
However, he was arrested in 1985 when federal authorities caught him smuggling 660 pounds of cocaine into the country in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Jung struck a deal to testify against his old friend Lehder in exchange for a reduced sentence himself. That chance did not last long — Jung was arrested in 1995 when police found over 200 pounds of marijuana at his home in East Dennis, Massachusetts.
Jung was sentenced to 21 years in prison for that offense and remained behind bars until 2014. He has generally stayed out of the public eye since then, and police told the Globe that they hadn't "had any recent dealings with Mr. Jung." His cause of death has not yet been publicly revealed, nor have the details of his funeral arrangements.