Smuggling With Jesus

Smuggling With Jesus

Not many people go from being raised as an orthodox Jew to becoming an international drug smuggler. Hank Cooper, a Canadian who grew up in Toronto, traveled that path. After becoming an adult (chronologically, at least), in the nineteen seventies and eighties, Hank lived anything but what his parents would have called a normal life during his twenties and early thirties. Maybe it had something to do with his orthodox Jewish upbringing, but then again it probably was a combination of a million other things, especially luck, which he discusses in his memoir, Smuggling with Jesus.

Based on a series of events that formed Hank Cooper’s life, Smuggling with Jesus resembles a work of fiction or a TV movie-of-the-week, but everything in this memoir is exactly as it happened with no need to exaggerate. Only Hank, with his eye for detail, sardonic approach to the world around him, and capacity for self-reflection, could tell the story of his wild ride with a drug smuggling character named Bernie, who may or may not have been the reincarnation of Jesus. Hank and Bernie’s wild ride included cocaine smuggling, Uzi-brandishing drug lords, sex, celebrities, rock and roll, corrupt law enforcement officials, and exotic places Hank couldn’t believe he was visiting. The wild ride ended when the birth of his son suddenly turned Hank into a grown-up.





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Hank Cooper
Hank Cooper is a first generation Canadian, born in Toronto in June of 1951, the middle child of orthodox Jewish parents. His grandparents on both sides undertook hazardous journeys from Belarus and Ukraine with their children during the 1920s, worthy of a book by itself and in a way making Hank a miracle child - the town where his mother came from has a mass grave with 3300 Jews in it, her family being one of very few who escaped that village.
Hank attended school in Toronto, until he realized that he and formal education were not a good fit. In fact, since the age of ten he had told himself that he would rather face his future by teaching himself on the streets rather than being imprisoned by the traditional school system. So, one day, with only two weeks left before the end of 11th grade during a high school class that frustrated him by its boredom, Hank decided that he’d rather take his chances in the outside world, facing the unknown and taking life as it rose up to meet him. He walked into the vice principal’s office and announced that he was leaving school. The vice principal begged him to stay in school, to the point that Hank was starting to feel sorry for the poor guy because he was so concerned about his welfare. But not sorry enough to stay, and Hank stuck to his exit plan.

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