JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A former cellmate of Carlos Lehder said Wednesday he set up a nationwide distribution network for the accused cocaine czar, who once had his mother take $800,000 worth of drugs from Miami to Los Angeles.
George Jung, who met Lehder in the federal prison in Danbury, Conn., in 1974, said he resisted Lehder's repeated requests to meet a Richard Burlie, his West Coast dealer.
'I loved him as a brother and eventually broke down,' Jung said. By 1977, Jung said Lehder had eliminated him from the operation, so he met him in Nassau, Bahamas, to talk about his suspicions.
'I met him there and confronted him with my suspicions and he told me yes he was working with Burile ... and I was no longer needed in his organization,' Jung said.
Prosecutors charge Lehder, a leader of Colombia's 'Medellin Cartel,' is responsible for up to 75 percent of the U.S. cocaine supply and numerous murders.
Jung said he eventually got back into the cartel through a smuggler named Humbertos Hoyos, but when he initially was forced out, he returned to his Massachusetts home and put out a contract for Lehder's murder.
He said Hoyos convinced him to drop the contract and agreed to help him get cocaine through the cartel.
With Hoyos' help, Jung met Lehder in Nassau in July 1980. He said he asked Lehder if he could get back the California end of the drug operation.
Jung said Lehder told him that he had control of Norman's Cay in the Bahamas and had been introduced to Bahamas' Prime Minister Lynden Pindling. Lehder also said the M-19s, a Colombian revolutionary group, were protecting him and carrying out his executions in that country.
'He mentioned making somewhere up from several hundreds of millions of dollars by transporting cocaine into the United States,' Jung said. 'He related to me that he was the king of drug transportation, the king of cocaine.'
Jung, who is currently is serving a 15-year sentence on a drug conviction, was the first witness at Lehder's federal trial on 11 charges of conspiracy, importation and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
He began his testimony Tuesday, describing the smuggling operation he and Lehder planned while in prison in 1974, and how they moved into the Ocean Pavillion Hotel at Miami Beach three years later.
'Carlos began to bring kilos of cocaine into the hotel,' Jung said. 'They were in shopping bags and shopping carts (brought up) in the service elevator.'
Jung said he repacked the cocaine in their 11th floor apartment and began flying 15-20-kilo shipments to Burile in Los Angeles once or twice a week. He said he brought back $200,000 to $1.2 million each trip.
Jung also recounted the time when Lehder sent his mother to Los Angeles with a shipment. He said he already was in California at the time and Burile said he needed more cocaine.
Jung called Lehder in Miami and asked him to send someone out with another shipment.
Lehder called the next day and said someone would be there shortly.
'I asked him, 'Who is it?' and he said 'It will be a surprise.' The next day there was a knock on the door and I opened the door and there with the doorman was Carlos Lehder's mother,' Jung said.
He said she was very distraught, shaking nervously, and when he opened the luggage he found eight kilograms of cocaine. He said he called Lehder immediately.
'I asked him what he was doing, and he related something to me like, everybody has to work and she wanted to see Disneyland and that was his way of doing it,' Jung said.