|Occupation:||Law Enforcement Officer|
|Birth Day:||July 26, 1947|
|Death Date:||Feb 9, 1985 (age 37)|
Mexican-American man who worked as an undercover agent for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. When his true identity was discovered, Kiki Camarena was abducted by police officers working for drug kingpin Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, at which point he was tortured and killed.
As per our current Database, Kiki Camarena died on Feb 9, 1985 (age 37).
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Kiki Camarena was born in Mexicali and served in the U.S. Marine Corps for two years in the 70's.
Enrique Camarena was born on July 26, 1947, in Mexicali, Mexico. The family—three brothers and three sisters—immigrated to Calexico, California when Camarena was a child. Camarena's parents divorced when he was young and the family endured considerable poverty after their move. His oldest brother Eduardo joined the Marines and was killed while serving in Vietnam in 1965. His other brother Ernesto had a troubled police record, including drug problems. Despite the family's difficulties, Camarena graduated from Calexico High School in 1966.
As part of these efforts, the first American narcotics law enforcement office was opened in Mexico City in the mid-1960s by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, a branch of the Treasury Department. A Guadalajara office was opened in 1969. These and other offices opened by various agencies remained in place as American drug enforcement agencies first proliferated, then finally merged into the DEA. While the offices were opened with Mexican government permission, they later became controversial, particularly during the Camarena case.
After graduating from high school, Camarena joined the Marines. Following his discharge in 1970, he returned to Calexico and joined the police department. From regular police work, he moved on to undercover narcotics work as a Special Agent on the Imperial County Narcotic Task Force (ICNTF).
In response to strong American pressure, and to domestic law enforcement concerns, Mexico began eradication programs of opium and marijuana plantations, with large infusions of U.S. assistance. The first programs were on a smaller scale and used mostly manual eradication, such as "Operation Cooperation" in 1970. As plantation sizes grew, the eradication efforts also grew. In 1975, Mexican president Luis Echeverría approved "Operation Trizo", which used aerial surveillance and spraying of herbicides and defoliants from a fleet of dozens of planes and helicopters.
After the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was established in 1973, it quickly instituted a hiring program for Spanish speaking agents. Both Camarena and his sister Myrna joined the new agency in 1974, Myrna as a secretary and Enrique as a special agent in the DEA's Calexico resident office.
These flights produced positive results, reducing acreage planted and eventually a reduction in Mexican heroin quality and quantity. Mexican law enforcement on the ground also had some positive results. Alberto Sicilia Falcon, a major trafficker who was one of first to transship cocaine through Mexico, was arrested in 1975. Pedro Aviles, an important Sinaloa trafficker was killed in a shoot-out with Mexican Federal Police in 1978.
American law also restricts DEA activities abroad. As a practical result of host country restrictions, DEA policy prohibits agents from doing undercover work abroad. A law known as the Mansfield amendment, introduced by Senator Mike Mansfield and passed by Congress in 1975, prohibited DEA personnel to even be present at the scene of an arrest overseas. It also banned overseas agents from using force, except where lives were threatened. This later complicated DEA efforts in the investigation of Camarena's death.
In 1977, Camarena transferred to the agency's Fresno field office, where he worked undercover on smuggling activities in the San Joaquin Valley. Author Elaine Shannon describes Camarena as "a natural in the theater of the street", able to "slip effortlessly into a Puerto Rican accent or toss off Mexican gutter slang—whatever the role demanded." Colleagues described him as driven, even by the standards of job-focused DEA agents.
Under Mexican President José López Portillo, the aerial spotting and eradication endorsed by President Echeverría were curtailed, and American participation in these activities was ended in 1978. This made it easier for producers to build the large plantations discovered later in the 1980s and harder to verify that areas identified had actually been sprayed.
In 1980, a colleague and close friend who had moved from Fresno to the DEA resident office in Guadalajara suggested that Camarena also apply for assignment at the office, where a position was open. Foreign assignments were important for job advancement in the DEA and the Guadalajara office was seeing a surge in work, foreshadowing the explosion in drug trafficking of the 1980s. By this time, Camarena was married and had three sons. Guadalajara's spring-like weather and the city's American school and favorable exchange rate convinced Camarena and his family that the move would be good for the family as well.
Camarena's work with an informant they called "Miguel Sanchez" led to the first discovery of one of the new style plantations in 1982. "Sanchez" became friends with the man running the plantation, who told "Miguel" it was outside a small, isolated town called Vanegas in the state of San Luis Potosi, just across the border from the state of Zacatecas. According to "Miguel"'s information, the main financier of the plantation was cartel member Juan José Esparragoza Moreno. Camarena and "Miguel" finally located the plantation in August 1982. Camarena arranged two surreptitious solo overflights to confirm that it was a major plantation. He then briefed Mexican authorities, who raided the plantation in September. To everyone's astonishment, the plantation was over 200 acres large, employing hundreds of growers. The Guadalajara DEA estimated over four thousand tons of sinsemilla marijuana were destroyed in the raid, making it the largest plantation discovered up to that time.
In 1984, acting on information from the DEA, 450 Mexican soldiers backed by helicopters destroyed a 1,000-hectare (2,500-acre) marijuana plantation in Allende (Chihuahua) with an estimated annual production of $8 billion known as "Rancho Búfalo". Camarena, who was suspected of being the source of the information, was abducted in broad daylight on February 7, 1985, by corrupt Mexican officials working for the major drug traffickers in Mexico.
Camarena was taken to a residence located at 881 Lope de Vega in the colonia of Jardines del Bosque, in the western section of the city of Guadalajara, owned by Rafael Caro Quintero, where he was tortured over a 30-hour period and then murdered. His skull was punctured by a metal object, and his ribs were broken. Camarena's body was found wrapped in plastic in a rural area outside the small town of La Angostura, in the state of Michoacán, on March 5, 1985.
In November 1988, TIME magazine featured Camarena on the cover. Camarena received numerous awards while with the DEA, and he posthumously received the Administrator's Award of Honor, the highest award given by the organization. In Fresno, the California Narcotic Officers’ Association (CNOA) hosts a yearly memorial golf tournament named after him and presents an annual scholarship to graduating high school seniors. A school, a library and a street in his home town of Calexico, California, are named after him. Enrique Camarena Junior High School of the Calexico Unified School District opened in 2006. Additionally Enrique Camarena Elementary School in Mission, Texas, of the La Joya Independent School District, is named after him and had its dedication ceremony in 2006. The nationwide annual Red Ribbon Week, which teaches school children and youths to avoid drug use, was established in his memory.
Despite vigorous protests from the Mexican government, Álvarez was brought to trial in Los Angeles, in 1992. After the government presented its case, the judge ruled that there was insufficient evidence to support a guilty verdict and ordered Álvarez's release. Álvarez subsequently initiated a civil suit against the U.S. government, charging that his arrest had breached the U.S.–Mexico extradition treaty. The case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that Álvarez was not entitled to relief. The four other defendants, Vásquez Velasco, Juan Ramón Matta-Ballesteros, Juan José Bernabé Ramírez, and Rubén Zuno Arce (a brother-in-law of former President Luis Echeverría), were tried and found guilty of Camarena's kidnapping.
In 2004, the Enrique S. Camarena Foundation was established in Camarena's memory. Camarena's wife Mika and son Enrique Jr. serve on the all-volunteer Board of Directors together with former DEA agents, law enforcement personnel, family and friends of Camarena's, and others who share their commitment to alcohol, tobacco and other drug and violence prevention. As part of their ongoing Drug Awareness program, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks awards an annual Enrique Camarena Award at local, state and national levels to a member of law enforcement who carries out anti-drugs work.
In 2004, the Calexico Police Department erected a memorial dedicated to Camarena. The memorial is located in the halls of the department, where Camarena served.
In July 2020 was released the documentary series The Last Narc where the officer DEA agent Héctor Berrellez leading the investigation alleges that Félix Rodríguez was present when Enrique "Kiki" Camarena was kidnapped and tortured, and that Félix interrogated Camarena, asking him what he knew about the relation between CIA and the cartel of Guadalajara. Berrelez also explains that when he got this information to DEA Headquarters,the investigation was closed and a CIA member contacted him to advise him to keep silent if he didn't want to end up in a Mexican prison and killed. The documentary points to another agent of the DEA working in Mexico, as a collaborator in the kidnapping.
The Last Narc released in 2020 on Amazon Prime Video is a mini-series which depicts the kidnapping of Camarena and the events leading up to it.
Currently, Kiki Camarena is 74 years, 0 months and 6 days old. Kiki Camarena will celebrate 75th birthday on a Tuesday 26th of July 2022.
Find out about Kiki Camarena birthday activities in timeline view here.