Teaching Students About George Jung
George Jung, a name that might not be immediately recognizable to many, played a crucial role in the 1970s and early 1980s United States cocaine trade. In order to understand the implications of his actions and his impact on society, it is crucial for students to learn about this enigmatic figure. In this article, we will explore various aspects of George Jung’s life and provide suggestions on how to effectively teach students about him.
Early Life and Background
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1942, George Jacob Jung grew up in a humble working-class family. From an early age, he showed an entrepreneurial spirit which would later manifest itself in his criminal ventures. While studying at the University of Southern Mississippi, Jung got involved in marijuana smuggling. This laid the foundation for his future involvement in the drug trade.
Teaching Note: Consider starting by discussing Jung’s humble beginnings to help students understand how someone from an ordinary background can end up becoming one of America’s most notorious drug traffickers.
Involvement with the Medellín Cartel
George Jung rose to prominence by joining forces with notorious Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar and the infamous Medellín Cartel. He played a pivotal role in establishing a massive network across North America that led to the cocaine epidemic of the 1970s and 1980s, causing widespread societal devastation.
Teaching Note: Teachers should emphasize the far-reaching consequences of his collaboration with Escobar. Students should also be encouraged to explore different sources on both drug cartels (American and Colombian) to gain a deeper understanding.
Criminal Career and Arrests
Jung’s criminal career was filled with numerous arrests for drug smuggling; he spent several periods behind bars as a result. It was during one such imprisonment that he met Carlos Lehder Rivas, who introduced him to the Medellín Cartel.
Teaching Note: Detail the various stages of his criminal career, and help students understand how his incarceration only fueled his ambition and drove him deeper into the drug trade.
Impact on Society
The introduction of mass quantities of cocaine into American society had severe consequences that reverberate to this day. Addiction, healthcare costs, and crime associated with the drug trade all created social issues that are still being addressed. However, Jung has also become a cautionary tale for those considering any involvement in illicit activities.
Teaching Note: Have students research and discuss both the positive and negative aspects of George Jung’s impact on society. Encourage them to debate whether or not his personal ambition justifies the social consequences his actions caused.
Redemption and Release
After spending several decades in prison, Jung was eventually released in 2014. Since then, he has been working to turn his life around and make amends for his role in perpetuating drug culture. He has spoken publicly about his past, offering insights into how he got involved in the drug trade and warning others about its dangers.
Teaching Note: Introduce George Jung’s latter years to your students by showing interviews or documentaries featuring him. This will allow students to better understand his perspective on the consequences of his past actions and see how one person can learn from their mistakes.