April 12, 2005
Fallen Heroes - Agent Enrique 'Kiki' Camarena
It makes no difference how they are described – as a fallen hero or as an officer down, the loss of any law enforcement officer in the line of duty has a huge impact on many people. First, the family – the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives and children, all share the brunt of this tragic and sudden loss. Then comes the loss to the department. It makes no difference if the individual is a total rookie or if he or she is a thirty year veteran, the impact is still the same. A brother or sister is gone.
Occasionally, the loss of an officer will have an impact on the community at large and even those who did not personally know the officer will shed a tear and offer their condolences.
Sometimes, officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice become larger in death and do more to bring recognition to the battle of good versus evil, than they probably could have ever hoped to accomplish in life. I believe the four Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who were ambushed and killed in Canada on March 3, 2005 will be memorialized throughout history as positive, eternal symbols for Canadian law enforcement and the citizens of Canada.
The United States has had such a law enforcement symbol for the past twenty years. His name was Enrique (Kiki) Camarena. Briefly, this is his story and his legacy, not only to law enforcement, but to our nation.
I first met ‘Kiki” in the late sixties or early seventies when he was a patrol officer with the Calexico, California Police Department. I was working narcotics with U.S. Customs at the time and Kiki often worked investigations with us. Later he transferred to the Imperial County Sheriff’s Department where he and several of his fellow deputies more or less became permanent fixtures in our office working side by side with us, almost on a daily basis.
About 1974 Kiki applied for the position of Special Agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). I sat on his interview board and it was a pleasure to recommend him for the job. I knew that he had the tenacity of a bulldog, that he loved to work, and that he already knew the job of getting narcotics and narcotics traffickers off of the street.
After being hired by DEA, Kiki worked stateside for a few years and then transferred to the DEA office in the city of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Kiki, during the time that he worked in Mexico, made a huge impact on the flow of narcotics flowing out of Mexico.
As a part of a normal rotation of assignments, Kiki and his family were about transfer back to the United States – only several weeks remained before he and his family would make the move but on February 7, 1985, Kiki was kidnapped by members of a drug cartel. He was tortured for approximately three days and finally died as a result of his injuries. Approximately one month later, after much pressure by the U.S., he was finally found in a dump
As a result of these heinous crimes of kidnapping, torture and murder, the name of Kiki Camarena immediately became known to millions of Americans and his legacy was born. Red Ribbon week, the anti drug program was established in his honor. And now a national education fund has been established to assist families of those who have a family member who has been seriously wounded or who have lost their “fallen hero.”
The details of this education fund and what you can do to help, financially or otherwise, are below. In my opinion, by helping, anyway that you can, you are remembering in your own way, all who are left behind.
With thanks and gratitude,
First Year Update
March 30, 2005
One year ago today (2004) a bust of the late Enrique ‘Kiki’ Camarena was installed at the San Diego DEA office in recognition of all narcotic officers who have been killed or wounded in the line of duty. The building was named for Agent Camarena and a special display was installed next to the Wall of Honor. The San Diego Chapter of AFFNA was involved in the project and decided to ask nationwide for contributions to help place similar busts in public buildings, schools and libraries as a drug prevention effort. When everyone responded overwhelmingly, the Foundation was formed as an IRS non-profit 501 (c) (3) public benefit organization with the help of Attorney Charles Purdy and the CPA firm of Nation Smith Hermes Diamond who volunteered their assistance.
By the end of 2004 more than $25,000 had been received from individuals and organizations for bust purchases and seven had been installed. In addition to the one at San Diego, similar ceremonies were held at DEA offices at Phoenix, Imperial (CA), the El Paso Intelligence Center, and the DEA/AFFNA traveling exhibit, which was then at New York City and is now moving to Chicago. Others were installed at the Lugonia Elementary School in Redlands, CA, and at the Bonnie L. Garcia Elementary School in Laredo, TX. The latter was funded by the family of AFFNA and FOBA member Eloy Garcia in honor of his mother.
On February 7, 2005 (the 20th anniversary of the abduction of Agent Camarena), another bust was installed by the Police Officers Association at Calexico, CA, where Kiki first worked in law enforcement at the PD and later joined DEA. Other projects for 2005 will include the installation of busts at the DEA office in Boston sponsored by the Northeast Chapter of AFFNA; at the DEA training facility at Quantico; and at the DEA office in St. Louis as a part of their participation in Red Ribbon week. Others in the planning stages are at the Courthouse in Vallejo, CA, and another at a site to be selected by FOBA.
The Foundation now has a website--- thanks to the help of Mr. Eric Valenzuela. A brochure is now at the printers and will be ready for distribution in April. The ‘Camarena Pins’ with individualized numbers have been received from the manufacturer and will now be sent to each past and future contributor.
Directors of the organization are: Geneva ‘Mika’ Camarena, Diogenes ‘Dodge’ Galanos, Joseph Gonzales, Rich Gorman, Ted Hunter, Bobby Sheppard, Bruce Stock and John Windham. Advisory Board members are: Peter Bensinger, Enrique Camarena (Kiki’s eldest son), Myrna Covarrubias, Diana Holly and John Lawn. Historian is Kathy Galanos. Officers are John Windham, President; Dodge Galanos, Vice President; and Bobby Sheppard, Secretary-Treasurer. Major volunteers are Annabelle Grills and Jean Montenegro. Agent Misha Piastro is our liaison with DEA SAC John Fernandes.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
1. Send donations. Make checks payable to the Enrique Camarena Foundation, and mail to: P. O. Box 28691, San Diego, CA, 92198. You will receive an elegant pin bearing your own ‘Camarena Number.’ If you gave last year, please do so again because your money is being well spent, is needed, and is tax deductible.
2. Help select sites. Because our goal is to prevent drug abuse we need to install busts in cities everywhere, including yours. You can act as a catalyst by locating a site and helping arrange financing through civic clubs, businesses, other drug prevention groups, etc. We have a new source for the busts with a reduced cost of only $900 plus shipping and handling (about $1,100 total. They previously cost $1,800 +.) We will help you work out the financing in any way possible. If there’s a will, there is a way.
3. Promote the wearing of ‘Kiki Camarena’ Reminderbands. They are red in color, come in three sizes, and are inscribed: ”‘KIKI CAMARENA 1947-1985’ and ‘www.camarenafoundation.org .’” Because this is the 20th anniversary of Kiki’s abduction there will be heightened interest, especially during Red Ribbon Week in October. You can order Reminderbands from the address below for $5 each to support the cause. There are no limits to the orders, minimum or maximum. (The Calexico Chamber of Commerce bought $500 worth and sold out quickly).
4. Furnish ideas. Please send suggestions because we find them to be helpful. Don’t hesitate to call or write about anything we are doing. You can call 858-485-1356, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to P. O. Box 28691, San Diego, CA 92198. And please check out the website at CamarenaFoundation.org. It’s new but will expand quickly.
This Foundation can well become one of the best projects ever for impacting drug abuse, and it guarantees those narcotic officers who were killed or wounded that their sacrifices were not made in vain. By focusing on the name of Enrique “Kiki’ Camarena, whose death came under terrible circumstances and impacted the entire spectrum of drug abuse, we can make enormous inroads with your help.
Thanks for your concern,
John Windham, President