George Jung, the notorious drug smuggler whose exploits with the feared Medellin cartel were chronicled in books and the Johnny Depp film “Blow,” has died at the age of 78, according to his social media accounts and published reports.
Also Wednesday, TMZ, citing unnamed sources, reported that Jung died that morning at home in the Boston area. His official Twitter and Facebook pages were also updated Wednesday with a traditional Irish blessing that 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.” The message concluded with “1942-2021.”
Jung made local headlines in 2017 when he returned to his native Weymouth to film parts of a documentary about his life. The filmmakers said at the time that the documentary would chart Jung’s journey from humble beginnings on the South Shore to high-flying drug supplier helping to run an empire that spanned Florida, California, and international locales.
His prolific life of crime was well documented in press reports, true crime books, and the Hollywood film released in 2001.
Federal authorities described Jung in the mid-1990s as formerly one of the top figures in the Medellin cartel, a Colombian drug ring that supplied 80 percent of the nation’s cocaine at its height in the 1980s.
Jung met Medellin kingpin Carlos Lehder Rivas in prison in the 1970s and later became part of his operation.
But the lucrative partnership ended in 1985 when Jung was busted in a Fort Lauderdale sting for smuggling 660 pounds of cocaine. Three years later, Jung was the prosecution’s star witness at Lehder’s trial, testifying against his former friend in exchange for a reduced sentence.
Trouble found Jung again in 1995, when the feds raided his East Dennis home and seized between 200 and 300 pounds of marijuana. He was ultimately sentenced to 21 years and eight months in that case. He was released in 2014, the Cape Cod Times reported at the time.
The 2001 film “Blow” starred Depp, Penelope Cruz, and an always-menacing Ray Liotta, who portrayed Jung’s irascible South Shore father, Fred, often driven to distraction by his son’s criminal exploits.
The movie revealed Jung’s cult status as a flamboyant anti-hero, charting his meteoric rise and crashing fall in the freewheeling drug game of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s in vivid detail.
On Sunday, Jung’s long-time partner, Ronda Clay Spinello Jung, posted an update that made it clear her companion was in failing health.
“Please keep the prayers and love coming, George opened his eyes this morning and looked at me and said ‘Come on, Kid! Let’s go!’” she posted. ”I said where are we going, he said Miami.” She ended her posting with a heart emoji.
Spinello Jung says on Facebook that she lives in Brewster, and a number listed for her wasn’t in service Wednesday. Funeral information for Jung wasn’t immediately available.
Brewster Police Chief Heath Eldredge said via e-mail on Thursday that his department hadn’t “had any recent dealings with Mr. Jung and a check of our records does not indicate that we responded to any medical calls or an unattended death involving him.”