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Okay, so let’s get this straight. Canadian, Hank Cooper, looking for some excitement at the tender age
of 23, and maybe even a way to pick up some extra spending money, takes up a friendly offer one night from a stranger at a party in Toronto…and the next day, he’s running cocaine from Colombia to Canada for Pablo Escobar.

During his trial run to La Paz Bolivia, Hank finds himself paralyzed by fear. A coup du jour has turned the streets three stories below his hotel window into a war zone. How are Hank and his new business partner, Bernie, going to get out of the country with two kilos of coke? Who can they call, Ghostbusters?

The answer rests with a “young, handsome, and very personable” Argentinean police officer, Francesco, traveling with his mother, who the two smugglers befriended at their hotel just the day before. After Hank and Bernie build up the courage to admit that they were not quite on a sightseeing excursion, the cop should have flashed a badge and hauled them off to one of the most notorious prisons in South America. Instead, he says with a smile: “We are friends, and in this part of the world friends help each other no matter what.”

Days later, the officer is shaking hands with a Peruvian border guard. Passage granted. Come again?

A month later, and 9967.34 kilometers farther north, Bernie says to Hank, “Get in the car. We have to go somewhere now! You will soon find out.” Within 30 minutes, the two are hopping up the steps to Customs at Toronto International. This is nuts, Hank is thinking. Inside a small room, they meet with a 20-something Canada Customs Agent. The kid acts like he’s all but delighted to see Bernie. After working out delivery dates and times, the Customs Agent opens his locker and gives his new friend, Hank, an official Canada Customs official shirt…and a badge!

Four weeks later, badges are flashing as the Canadian Mounties raid the home of Hank’s mother. Hank is screaming at them to leave his poor little mother alone and to get the hell out of the house. The three cops net a bag of…laundry detergent, testing what they thought was cocaine for sure. Frustrated, one of the officers drops the cliche caveat: “We’ll be watching you. You’ll eventually slip up.” They speed off in their undercover cars.

Two questions come to mind:

Why isn’t this guy dead?

Shouldn’t he be pushing his memoir in the Fiction category?
Hank Cooper is either the epitome of naive…or incredibly lucky. Or he’s blessed by traveling and forging a deep friendship with one of the most intriguing and atypical drug smugglers in history: Bernie.

A nice guy, who everyone the pair encounters, seems to adore. In Smuggling With Jesus, (233 pages; 57,800 words), Hank Cooper’s firsthand account of his life in the international drug trade, the author captures the lighter side of drug smuggling and makes a case for one life that is a movie and is destined to become one. Only with these characters – Uzi-brandishing drug lords, hippies financing their art with coke deals, law enforcement officials providing Carte Blanche for a drug trade gone way off the charts, frankly, it’s hard to tell the criminals from the good guys.

The writer’s past is so heavily steeped in illegal activity, his own editor insisted on signing a waiver to
protect himself from the threats of potential ongoing surveillance. Let’s face it, as Hank Cooper has established throughout most of his “professional” career, you’re more often known by who your friends are. And through his engaging, unsettling, yet uncannily approachable story, Hank Cooper sets out to figure out just who his friend, Bernie, is, and why, like a modern day son of God, he seems so blessed. But will his luck run out?

Most helpful customer reviews on 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
Hank Cooper
5.0 out of 5 stars
Review of my long awaited non fiction book

November 26, 2017 – Published on

Format: Paperback
Verified Purchase
5.0 out of 5 stars
Exciting and well-written.

July 21, 2019 – Published on

Format: Kindle Edition