Drug smuggler and original Medellin cartel associate George Jung was serving almost 20 years in prison when Johnny Depp portrayed him in 2001’s Blow (based on the book BLOW: How a Small Town Boy Made $100 Million with the Medellín Cocaine Cartel and Lost It All) and now, according to TMZ, he has been released. He’s now 71-years-old. I wonder if Depp bought him a trunk full of decorative scarves and bangles to celebrate.
Jung’s original scheduled release date was supposed to be on November 27, 2014, but according to reports, he has been released from the minimum-security holding, where he spent nearly two decades behind bars. Reports indicate that Jung will go live in a “halfway house” somewhere on the West Coast as part of a transitioning program to prepare him for reentry into society. Calls made to the federal facility about why Jung was released before his scheduled date were not immediately returned.
I’ll be honest, when I hear “minimum security prison” and “halfway house,” it doesn’t sound like that much different of a lifestyle than just being 71.
When he was released for transporting marijuana, Jung later got involved with the Medellin Cartel, which was credited with supplying roughly 85 percent of the cocaine circulating in the United States during the late 1970s. “I thought cocaine was a fantastic drug. A wonder drug, like everybody else. It gave you [an] energy burst. You could stay awake for days on end, and it was just marvelous and I didn’t think it was evil at all,” Jung said in the interview. “I put it almost in the same category as marijuana, only hell of a lot better. It was a tremendous energy boost. It gave the feeling, a high, but nobody knew, well maybe a small percentage of people knew. But eventually everybody knew how evil it really was.” [BostonMagazine]
If you want to know more about Jung’s story, he sat for a long interview with PBS’s Frontline just before Blow was released. Blow isn’t remembered as well as a lot of the other drug kingpin movies, probably partly because it feels late to the game and a bit derivative, but I think also because it didn’t paint a huge myth about Jung, where he felt more like a guy moved by external forces than some sexy maverick. Where Tony Montana was this guy who came from nothing and succeeded by the skin of his huge balls and blah blah blah, Jung was depicted mostly as this average dude who made money by being decently clever and an all-around pretty nice guy, and then ended up getting taken advantage of by guys who weren’t as fair as he was.
Also, the last one of these updates we reported on was on the guy from Party Monster, who did less time in prison than Jung for killing a guy with Drano and cutting up his corpse and throwing him in a river. That seems way worse than smuggling drugs to me, but maybe I’m just biased because I like drugs.