A legendary drug dealer makes a play for the corporate-speaking racket.
By Steve Miller | Boston Magazine | February 2015
When George Jung finally walked out of New Jersey’s Fort Dix prison on an ordinary Monday last June, he was thinking about chowder. At 71, he’d spent the past 20 years locked up and goddammit, he’d always missed the food from his childhood in the Boston suburbs.
He settled for a half-assed bowl, his first since the Clinton administration, at the airport in Philadelphia—as close as he’d make it to his native Weymouth. He wasn’t headed home, yet. Instead, he was en route to a halfway house in Northern California as part of his supervised release. And so he was forced to eat his off-brand chowder with an agent of the federal court system—not with a beautiful woman, who might have joined him 30 years ago during his heyday, when he was the right-hand man and smuggling king for one of the world’s largest and most fearsome cocaine cartels. In his mind, though, Jung felt like he was back in the late 1970s, sitting on the sun deck of his beach home in Cape Cod. And the white chowder in the Styrofoam cup tasted just fine.
After the meal and a cross-country flight, Jung landed in San Francisco, where TMZ paparazzi were waiting to videotape his return to the world. “Life’s a rodeo and all you have to do is stay in the saddle,” Jung told the camera, beaming at the attention. “I’m back in the saddle again.”
As stage entrances go, it couldn’t have been scripted any better for Jung, who was famously portrayed by Johnny Depp in the 2001 movie Blow. With no marketable skills to speak of, it’s hard to blame him for hoping that his criminal celebrity will somehow pay off. “What can George do?” says Tom Tiderington, a former Fort Lauderdale, Florida, narcotics detective who busted Jung in 1985. “He has no résumé, and he’s set up for failure. The only thing he has is the residual value of his past.”