Enrique Camarena (DEA Agent)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Enrique Camarena
NicknameKike in Spanish,[1] Kiki in English[2]
Born(1947-07-26)July 26, 1947
Mexicali, Mexico
DiedFebruary 9, 1985(1985-02-09) (aged 37)
La Angostura, Mexico
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Marine Corps
Years of service1972–1974
Other workDrug Enforcement Administration
 
Jump to: navigation, search
Enrique Camarena
NicknameKike in Spanish,[1] Kiki in English[2]
Born(1947-07-26)July 26, 1947
Mexicali, Mexico
DiedFebruary 9, 1985(1985-02-09) (aged 37)
La Angostura, Mexico
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Marine Corps
Years of service1972–1974
Other workDrug Enforcement Administration

Enrique "Kiki" Camarena (July 26, 1947 – February 9, 1985) was a Mexican undercover agent for the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) who was abducted on February 7, 1985, and then tortured and murdered, while on assignment in Mexico. Camarena's nickname in Spanish was "Kike"[1] and "Kiki"[2] in English.

Contents

Biography

In 1972, Camarena joined the United States Marine Corps, where he served for two years. He then joined the DEA at their Calexico, California, office. In 1977, Camarena moved to their Fresno office, and in 1981 he was assigned to the agency's Guadalajara office in Mexico. Camarena had also worked as a firefighter and police investigator before joining the DEA in Calexico.

In 1984, acting on information by Camarena, 450 Mexican soldiers backed by helicopters destroyed a 1000-hectare marijuana plantation known as 'Rancho Búfalo', where thousands of farmers worked the fields,[3] the annual production of which was later valued at $8 billion.[4] The drug lords were outraged and set to investigate the source of the leak. Drug lord Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo ordered the kidnapping of Enrique Camarena on February 7, 1985, which apparently was done in broad daylight by corrupt police officers on his payroll. Camarena was tortured and bludgeoned to death soon after. Although his body was found on March 5, he may have been killed about one month before that: pathologists who examined his body believed the actual date of death was more likely around February 9. Camarena's body was found in a rural area outside a small town by the name of La Angostura in the state of Michoacán, Mexico.

Investigation

The torture and murder of Camarena prompted a swift reaction from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and launched Operation Leyenda, the largest DEA homicide investigation ever undertaken.[4][5] A special unit was dispatched to coordinate the investigation in Mexico – where corrupt officials were being implicated. Investigators soon identified Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo and his two close associates, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo and Rafael Caro Quintero, as the primary suspects in the kidnapping. Under pressure from the U.S.A., to President Miguel de la Madrid's government (1982-1988), Fonseca and Quintero were quickly apprehended, but Félix Gallardo still enjoyed political protection.[4]

The United States government pursued a lengthy investigation of Camarena's murder. Due to the difficulty of extraditing Mexican citizens, the DEA went as far as to detain two suspects, Humberto Álvarez Machaín, the physician who allegedly prolonged Camarena's life so the torture could continue, and Javier Vásquez Velasco, kidnapped and taken into the United States. Despite vigorous protests from the Mexican government, Álvarez was tried in United States District Court in Los Angeles. The trial resulted in an acquittal by a judge before the trial commenced. The four others, Vásquez Velasco, Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros, Juan José Bernabé Ramirez and Rubén Zuno Arce (a relative of former President Luis Echeverría) did not escape, and were found guilty of Camarena's kidnapping.[6]

Zuno Arce was known to have ties to corrupt Mexican officials,[7] and Mexican officials were implicated in covering up the murder.[8] Mexican police had destroyed evidence on Camarena's body.[9]

Legacy

Agent Camarena received numerous awards while with the DEA, and after his death, he posthumously received the Administrator's Award of Honor, the highest award given by the organization. In Fresno, the DEA hosts a yearly golf tournament named after him. The nationwide annual Red Ribbon Week, which teaches school children and youths to avoid drug use, was established in his memory.

In 2004, the Enrique S. Camarena Foundation was established in Camarena's memory. Mika and Enrique Jr. serve on the all-volunteer Board of Directors together with former DEA agents, law enforcement personnel, family and friends of Agent Camarena, and others who share their commitment to alcohol, tobacco and other drug and violence prevention.

Several movies about Agent Camarena were produced in Mexico. In November 1988, Time magazine featured Agent Camarena on the cover. A 1990 U.S television mini-series about Camarena, starring Treat Williams and Steven Bauer, was produced (Drug Wars: The Camarena Story), an unofficial record of the events that occurred.

In 2005, the History Channel produced a documentary entitled Heroes Under Fire: Righteous Vendetta that chronicles the events. It also features interviews with family members, DEA agents and others involved in the investigation.

Also in 2005, the book entitled ¿O Plata O Plomo? The abduction and murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena was released. It was written by DEA Resident Agent in Charge James H. Kuykendall (Ret.).

Enrique Camarena is survived by his wife Mika and their three sons.

See also

References

External links

Further reading