Undercover agent Enrique S. Camarena Salazar was employed by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). His main goal was to make every part of the United States free from the use of illegal substances. His death, which was harsh in every sense of the word, was the outcome of his dedication to his work. In February 1985, Kiki—as he was known to his friends and family—was kidnapped, tortured, and killed. Before he could reveal a few powerful drug traffickers in Mexico and the surrounding areas, the American agent of Mexican descent was slain. The drug-related issues that existed in his nation constantly worried Kiki. He was determined to find the location of a bunch of marijuana and cocaine smugglers, so he set out on foot in Mexico’s streets. He was brutally murdered on a farm by five guys as he prepared to reveal a multibillion-dollar narcotics trade. After almost a month, his body was discovered in a tiny town’s remote region. The brave heart’s narrative is both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. Kiki worked tirelessly to the very end to alter society, despite the danger inherent in his line of work. When his mother pressed him to leave his dangerous job, Kiki said that he was confident in his ability to make a difference and that someone had to speak out against drug trafficking.
Early Childhood & Life
Kiki was born on July 26, 1947, in Mexicali, a small village. His family relocated to Calexico, California, when he was nine years old.
Kiki served in the US Marine Corps from 1973 to 1975 after finishing high school. He completed his associate’s degree at Imperial Valley College after serving in the Marine Corps.
He also served as a Calexico firefighter while in college. He then became a member of the Calexico police force.
Career of Kiki Camarena
Kiki was transferred from the police department to El Centro, California, where he started working as a narcotics investigator.
He was hired by the Drugs Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 1974 and began serving as a special agent. His main objective was to end drug trafficking in the nation.
He relocated to the Guadalajara office in Mexico the next year and remained there for four years. He began learning about the numerous drug manufacturing facilities in the region while he was still in Mexico. He then informed the DEA and the neighborhood police station of the information.
A 2500-acre marijuana plantation called Rancho Bufalo was demolished in 1984 by 450 Mexican soldiers supported by a helicopter after they received a tip from Kiki. Since the attack destroyed about 8 billion dollars worth of manufacturing, the destruction had a significant impact on the drug lords.
The drug lords were able to deduce that Camarena was the source of the Rancho Bufalo knowledge. Camarena was about to reveal a new, enormous drug trade at the time, but the drug mafia had already started looking for him.
The DEA planned to relocate Kiki to a new place after realizing that his life was in danger, but before they could do that, some dishonest officials revealed Kiki’s whereabouts to a drug lord named Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo.
Kiki was kidnapped by five men in broad daylight on February 7, 1985. He was being shoved into a Volkswagen automobile by a few witnesses. After that, he was taken somewhere else. Camarena was on his way to meet his wife for lunch when he was kidnapped.
A few sources claim that he was tortured at Miguel’s ranch for thirty long hours. He allegedly received a specific kind of medication that kept him awake while he was being tortured. His nose, teeth, jaw, and ribs were all damaged, and a hole was also punched through his head. In the little village of La Angostura, his body was discovered on March 5, 1985.
The DEA and the US government were both startled to learn about Camarena’s murder. The DEA immediately began “Operation Leyenda,” and a specialized force was dispatched to Mexico to look into the situation.
Rafael Caro Quintero, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, and Miguel were identified as the prime suspects. A doctor called Humberto Lvarez Machan was detained for giving Caramena the medication that kept him awake while he was being tortured. Javier Vásquez Velasco, a bodyguard, was also detained.
The doctor was tried in a Los Angeles court in 1992, but due to a lack of evidence, he was freed. Politicians in Mexico protected Miguel while other suspects were convicted of kidnapping.
Recognition & Achievements
For his bravery and fortitude, Camarena was honored with numerous prizes. The highest honor bestowed by the DEA, the “Administrator’s Award of Honor,” was one of the most significant awards he was granted.
An annual golf outing is held at the Fresno DEA station as a tribute to Camarena.
In his honor, “Red Ribbon Week” was established in 1985. It is essentially a campaign that informs kids and teenagers about the negative effects of drugs.
In his honor, the Enrique S. Camarena Foundation was founded in 2004.
An annual award presentation known as the “Enrique Camarena Awards” was started by the “Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.” The honor is granted to people who exhibit tenacity, bravery and focus.
The cover of “TIME” magazine in November 1988 showed Camarena.
His narrative has been told in a number of television programs, including “El Chapo” (2015), “Narcos” (2015), “Drug Wars: The Camarena Story” (1990), and “Heroes Under Fire: Righteous Vendetta” (2017).
In Roberto Saviano’s 2015 book “Zero Zero Zero,” his story was also mentioned. Camarena’s life was also the inspiration for the novel “The abduction and murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena.” James H. Kuykendall, a former DEA agent, wrote the book.
Personal Life & Legacy
Camarena had three sons: Enrique, Daniel, and Eric. He was married to Mika.
Kiki Camarena Net Worth
Kiki is ranked as one of the most well-liked and wealthy law enforcement officials. Our study of Kiki Camarena’s net worth from sources including Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider indicates that it is roughly $1.5 million.