THE REAL MR. BIG: How A Refugee Became The UK’s Most Notorious Cocaine Kingpin

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Fernando Carranza Reyes

Born in 1960, Jesus Ruiz Henao grew up poor, but wanted to be rich like the drug dealers he saw growing up in the cocaine-producing region of Colombia’s Valle of the Cauca. To realize his ambition, Ruiz Henao moved to London, United Kingdom, in 1985. There he and his wife settled in the quiet suburb of Hendon, where he held down mundane but respectable cleaning and bus driving jobs. At least to outward appearances …

Actually, Ruiz Henao kept a low profile while he built a wide-ranging drug distribution network that extended from Colombia to Spain and Europe to the United Kingdom. For years, he stayed one step ahead of law enforcement, making more than a billion pounds over a ten-year period.

However, it was a risky business with law enforcement on one side and ruthless competitors on the other. By the summer of 2003, Ruiz Henao decided to get out of the drug business. But he finally made the one mistake that would get him caught. It cost him a 17-year prison sentence, with more tacked on when he tried to make one last deal from behind prison walls. 

THE REAL MR. BIG, co-written by Ruiz Henao with bestselling author Ron Chepesiuk, is the story of how an ambitious Colombian immigrant set up a sophisticated drug trafficking enterprise that earned him law enforcement’s description as “the Pablo Escobar of British drug trafficking.”

From the Book:

Ruiz Henao: “After reflecting a long time, I decided to get out of the business. The police were on to me. I spoke to my boss Sergio in Colombia and my friends there, telling them that I was getting out because of the heat that was on me.”

He paid off his closest associates and thanked them for working for him. He took a nice holiday in the Caribbean, and when he returned, he hoped to relax and enjoy his retirement.

Jason Brooks

“I made millions of pounds in the drug trade, but money had become less important to me. I had worked hard to make the money, but now the most important thing in my life was to spend time with my wife, son, and daughter. My pursuit of money cost me a good part of my life. Money can make you crazy and do stupid things. When I first started in the drug business, my goal was to make a million pounds, and I did. So l said to myself: ‘I am going to carry on until I make ten million pounds.’ I made that amount. At that point, I could buy a mansion, a yacht, pretty well anything, but I said to myself: ‘Why stop now?’ I then made fifty million pounds.

“At that point, I wanted to say to myself: ‘Enough.’  I had more money than I could ever possibly spend, and it was becoming a headache handling it. I could get out of the drug trade easily. I didn’t have real enemies, so I could leave the drug trade and not be an easy target for anybody.

“I had no idea that Fernando Carranza Reyes had become a police informant, but I kept noticing that I was being followed by different cars. The next day, I called my brother-in-law Mario to meet me in a park near Baker Street. As we normally did when we traveled to a meeting point, we used public transportation.

”As Mario got off at the bus stop, a female brushed him and planted a microphone in his jacket. When we met, we started to walk around the park and talk about many things, unaware that the British police were watching and listening to everything we were doing. I said to Mario: ‘Listen, Mario, at the end of the day, I don’t worry about the millions of pounds we have lost. That’s easy to recover. But the last thing I want to do is to go to prison.’ Information from that conversation became one of the strongest pieces of evidence against me in court.

“After we were done talking, we went to a car dealership to buy a car. That’s when we noticed a van with a lot of antennas following us. We immediately knew it was the police, so we went back to our homes.

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“My boss and friends accepted my leaving the drug business, but some of my contacts in Spain started to put pressure on me, telling me that it was an excuse because I didn’t want to work with them anymore. Some of them started threatening me, saying that they would do whatever necessary to get me killed. They warned me never to change telephone numbers or to leave them without any contact. They called me every day. The police managed to identify my numbers and intercept and record all the calls they made to me. 

“I told Beto, Wilmar, and Tito that I was out of the business and to lose all contact with me because I was under police radar. Beto and Wilmar listened to me and stayed out of the cocaine business, but Tito continued in the business with a Spanish contact. One day, while he was meeting the Spaniard and unloading fifty kilos of cocaine from a lorry into his car, Tito was arrested. He was sentenced to fourteen years in prison. I was totally unaware of Tito’s drug business at the time, but later it was all linked and used as evidence in my court case.”

Jesus had stopped drug dealing. He felt he had exited at the right time. But then he made a stupid mistake.

What Others Are Saying About THE REAL MR. BIG:

“Crime writer Ron Chepesiuk delivers a thrilling page-turner in this incredible first-person account of Jesus Ruiz Henao, his co-author.  Ruiz Henao, dubbed the “Pablo Escobar of British drug trafficking” by Scotland Yard, takes the reader along for a front row seat for his wild ride from his poor Colombian family to his rise to become England’s first billion pound cocaine kingpin. “The Real Mr. Big” is a high speed train trip through the modern cocaine trade and is ultimately the story of redemption in a man who discovers that money and power fades in comparison to the importance of family and love.” –Gerald Posner, Pulitzer Prize finalist and Author of Pharma: Greed, Lies and the Poisoning of America

“Ron Chepesiuk in the crime underworld is what Stephen King is to horror novels. Mr Big is a must read filled with twists and turns.”  –Markuann Smith, The Creator and Executive Producer of the Emmy Award winning show, GODFATHER OF HARLEM

“A compelling, hypnotic story, full of twists and surprises, told from inside a world few of us are exposed to outside crime fiction. A good part of the book’s pleasure is in how the engaging Mr. Big subverts stereotypes and expectations of what an international drug lord might be like.” — Jerome Clark, author of Hidden Realms

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Ron Chepesiuk (left) and Jesus Ruiz Henao (right)

“Reading this telling, well-written account about the menacing cancer of illicit drug manufacture and soliciting has had and continues to have a major impact on crippling world economies and their population. I can tell you; it is a real eye-opener and vividly scares me to no end. Jesus Ruiz Henao easily manipulated the desire for cocaine and those that joined him for a lifestyle of excessive riches gained at the expense and ruination of so many people and families. I highly recommend that everyone read this true story, and I am sure that you will view this arcane business just like me. It’s an amazing, must read.” –Ron Fino, former mob associate, noted FBI and CIA undercover operative and author of the Triangle Exit

“Ron Chepsiuk and Jesus Anibal Ruiz-Henao tell the amazing story of the first billion pound cocaine pipeline from Colombia to the United Kingdom. The beginnings to the new beginning in Jesus Anibal Ruiz-Henao’s life start’s with a phone call by Jesus’ daughter to Ron, that would change both of their lives. So get the book sit back with a double expresso and enjoy the ride without worrying about snitches and sicarios (contract killers).” –Dan Pearson, Author of “Last Don Standing, The Secret Life Of Mob Boss Ralph Natale”

“The Real Mr. Big by Ron Chepesiuk and Jesus Ruiz Henao is an epic tale. One of the largest drug kingpins in modern history, Henao tells his story in vibrant detail, revealing the deep secrets of the billion dollar drug empire he built. Fast-paced and highly engaging, The Real Mr. Big will delight readers who want to know the inner workings of the criminal underworld.” –Bob Batchelor, historian and author of The Bourbon King: The Life and Crimes of George Remus, Prohibition’s Evil Genius

“Over the last ten 10 years I’ve always been one of the first people to read Ron’s latest book. Whether it Sergeant Smack, Gangsters of Harlem or Black Caesar. His books always deliver a great story and move at a swift pace. With his latest, “Mr. Big” delivers a cinematic story about a kingpin I’ve never heard about. Once you start reading, you won’t put it down until you reach the last page. Great job, Ron.” — Jason Brooks,  Crime Producer/Podcaster , CrooksnCrimes.com

“What a fun read!!!! The story of Jesus Henao is mind blowing, and the way Ron and Jesus were able to capture the event in this book makes you dive in and be part of all the intricacies and dangers of this complex trade.” –Rodrigo Galavis, Executive Producer, With Sugar, Please LLC

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