SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — George Jung, a notorious drug smuggler whose life story was made into the film “Blow” starring Johnny Depp, gave a wide-ranging interview to KPIX 5 reporter Cate Cauguiran at the home in a San Francisco suburb where he is finishing his supervised parole and promoting a book he co-authored which chronicles his life in the cocaine trade.
As Jung sat down for the interview, Cate asked him what life outside prison was like after twenty years behind bars.
“It’s like the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour. When you’re isolated from society for twenty years and then reborn again into it it’s like being a child, everything is new all over again and it’s a pretty amazing feeling,” Jung replied.
Extended interview, Part 1 of 2
Responding to a question about what most surprised him about life on the outside, Jung answered quickly.
“Technology. The technology shocked me. The women are still as beautiful and the golf balls are still round. The cigars still taste as good but the technology is incredible to me. Mind-boggling,” he said.
Jung got his start in the drug business in the late 1960s dealing marijuana in southern California.
“We were taking Winnebagos full of marijuana back to the East and the money was rolling in and the next thing I knew I wanted more adventure and it was like ‘let’s go to Mexico!’,” Jung remembers.
Jung was busted in Chicago and did time in a federal penitentiary. His cellmate was Colombian drug lord Carlos Lehder Rivas, who introduced Jung to the lucrative economics of cocaine.
“I said how much does it cost, he said $60,000 a kilo and the top of my head started spinning… and thus began my journey to the gates of hell and back.”
Extended interview, Part 2 of 2
Recalling the heyday of cocaine use, Jung told KPIX 5 how his business boomed.
“People would line up for blocks at Studio 54 and the restrooms were full of cocaine and cocaine was everywhere… Basically I had the greatest, most powerful advertising in the world, I had Hollywood behind me and the record industry. I didn’t have to advertise.”
By the late 70s, Jung was the King of Coke, setting new standards for smugglers. He and the infamous Medellin Cartel used single-engine planes and abandoned runways to bring in 85% of the cocaine used in the United States. Jung called it “a walk in the park” and fear was his fuel.
“I was scared all the time and then that was the fun of it,” he says.
Then, in 1987, the Feds busted him again. Agents took his daughter but even that didn’t stop him. He got away, skipped bail and went for another big job. But this time the Feds finally nabbed him for good. He then spent almost 20 years in prison.
“What [prison] does is it rips your heart apart and your soul… the greatest thing taken away from you in there is love and 20 years without love is devastating,” Jung said.
As for regrets, Jung says he has plenty now.
“If I at the time had a crystal ball and could see into the future, I honestly wouldn’t have involved myself… It’s caused death, destruction of human lives… For me I was young. It was a game and I played it.”
And George Jung has a message for young people drawn to life in the fast lane dealing drugs.
“Don’t do it. Because if you get caught — and eventually you will get caught — it will destroy your life.”
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