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Drug smuggler George ‘El Americano’ Jung, who inspired Johnny Depp film Blow dies aged 78

George Jung, the drug trafficker known as El Americano who inspired Johnny Depp‘s film Blow and helped Pablo Escobar smuggle planeloads of cocaine into the United States, has died aged 78.  

The notorious cocaine smuggler died at his home in Boston on Wednesday morning where he was receiving hospice care. 

His cause of death was not immediately known but he had recently been battling liver and kidney failure, sources told TMZ.

Jung, who was often referred to as El Americano and ‘Boston George’ because of where he was from, died with his girlfriend Ronda and friend Roger by his side. 

He was a notorious drug smuggler who worked with Pablo Escobar’s Medellín Cartel to traffic cocaine into the United States. 

Jung, who ended up spending more than 20 years of his life in prison, was responsible for more than 85 percent of the cocaine smuggled into America in the 1970s and 1980s. 

George Jung, the drug trafficker known as El Americano who inspired Johnny Depp’s film Blow, died aged 78 at his home in Boston on Wednesday morning

Jung was part of the infamous Medellin drug cartel and supplied the United States with 80 percent of its cocaine in the 1980s

Jung was part of the infamous Medellin drug cartel and supplied the United States with 80 percent of its cocaine in the 1980s

‘Basically I was no different than a rock star or a movie star. I was a coke star,’ he told PBS in a 2000 interview.  

‘I was a guy who had a lot of money and unlimited access to cocaine and even if I looked like Bela Lugosi I still had the most beautiful women on the planet because everybody at that time, especially women, were in love with cocaine and of course in love with the money… the access to the automobiles, the clothes, the dinners, the lifestyle.’ 

Jung first entered the drug underworld in the 1960s when he started selling marijuana to his college student friends.

He upped his game when he realized how much money he could make and started trafficking marijuana between California and the East Coast. 

‘Of course, as time wore on, the business began to expand and grow. It went from more or less a college fun thing to a serious business. As the money grew, the power grew,’ he said. 

Jung started flying down to Mexico so he could buy marijuana directly from supplies and triple his profit.  

He ended up being caught with 660 pounds of marijuana in Chicago back in 1974 and was sent to federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut. 

It was during this stint in prison that he was sharing a cell with a Colombian man named Carlos Ledher.

Ledher ended up facilitating his entry into cocaine trafficking and eventually became his long-time business partner. 

‘He was looking for a way to transport cocaine out of Colombia and people to sell it in the United States and there I was. It was like a marriage made in heaven, or hell in the end. But that’s basically how it worked out. Carlos and I spent close to a year together, working and planning everyday,’ Jung said.   

Jung was released from New Jersey's FCI Fort Dix prison in 2014 after serving 20 years for drug trafficking. He had been caught with more than 1,700 pounds of cocaine in Kansas

Jung was released from New Jersey’s FCI Fort Dix prison in 2014 after serving 20 years for drug trafficking. He had been caught with more than 1,700 pounds of cocaine in Kansas 

Jung, who was often referred to as El Americano and 'Boston George' because of where he was from, died with his girlfriend Ronda and friend Roger by his side. George and Ronda are pictured above together in 2018

Jung, who was often referred to as El Americano and ‘Boston George’ because of where he was from, died with his girlfriend Ronda and friend Roger by his side. George and Ronda are pictured above together in 2018

Lehder ended up introducing Jung to the Medellín Cartel, while Jung taught Lehder how to smuggle the drugs into the US. 

The two went on to earn millions of dollars together. 

At one point, Jung claimed to have had $100 million hidden in a secret bank account in Panama. 

He was convicted again in 1994 after being caught with more than 1,700 pounds of cocaine in Kansas. 

He was initially sentenced to 60 years after pleading guilty to three counts of conspiracy but had his time dramatically reduced in exchange for testifying against Ledher. 

During that stint in FCI Fort Dix in New Jersey, Jung met with Johnny Depp as he prepared to portray him in the 2001 cult classic ‘Blow’.  

‘It’s very rare in life that any person opens up their heart and soul to you with unlimited access to their most profound thoughts, dreams, fears, regrets, intimacies,’ Depp wrote in a letter regarding his visit to Jung.

‘Even more rare when you’ve just met that person and, because of the obvious predicament, it’s highly unlikely that you will be spending too much time with them in the near future. So for this and more, I owe a great debt of gratitude to George.’ 

Jung was released from his stint in prison in 2014 when he was 71 years old. 

He met with Depp again following his release after the Hollywood star, who was then engaged to Amber Heard, reportedly reached out and invited him to his loft in downtown Los Angeles.  

Jung ended up being the inspiration behind Johnny Depp's 2001 cult classic film 'Blow'

Johnny Depp playing George Jung

Jung ended up being the inspiration behind Johnny Depp’s 2001 cult classic film ‘Blow’. Jung is pictured on the left, while Depp is pictured right portraying Jung in the film


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