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New School Dedicated to the Late DEA Agent Enrique Camarena, Who Lived a Life of Bravery

Photo of the news school

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The opening next week of the Enrique S. Camarena Elementary School in Chula Vista, California celebrates the legacy of a courageous DEA agent who was murdered by Mexican drug cartel members in February 1985.

No doubt Special Agent Camarena’s family, especially his son Enrique S. Camarena, Jr., will pause this week, particularly because the school opening coincides with their father’s birthday, and remember what a special father and husband he was.

The rest of us can remember him for his sacrifice and commitment to contributing to a safer world.Like Special Agent Terry Watson, whose life and recent death were the subject of a column a couple weeks ago. Enrique “Kiki” Camarena lived a full life of bravery and service. He was born in Mexicali, Mexico, but his family moved to the United States in Calexico, California.

He became a naturalized U. S. citizen and served in the Marines, as a firefighter and police investigator before joining DEA.

Assigned to the Guadalajara office in 1981, he was fearless in pursuing the illegal activities of the drug smugglers in the area. Despite the danger he acted undercover and had infiltrated the cartel. In 1985, his investigation led to the discovery and destruction of 2,500 acres of marijuana worth an estimated $ 9 billion.In spite of information, that he had been targeted by the cartel, he stayed on to continue his investigations.

On February 7, 1985, in broad daylight, he was kidnapped as he left the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara. He was on his way to meet his wife Geneva for lunch. For two days he was tortured and then bludgeoned to death by cartel henchmen with the aid of corrupt police officers.

A massive manhunt by U.S. federal law enforcement resulted in the capture and conviction of his killers and their aider and abettors. Special Agent Camarena’s life continues to make a difference. The activities of the Camarena Foundation support education and drug-free living for America’s youth.

Every year in October thousands of schools and law enforcement offices around the country participate in Red Ribbon Week to support the goals of the Foundation.Enrique Camarena Jr. was 11 when his father died, but he made a commitment to follow in his father’s footsteps. With the support of the DEA Survivors Benefit Fund he went to law school and became a Deputy District Attorney for San Diego County, where he continues to serve.

He is also active in the work of the Camarena Foundation and in contributing to the efforts to support other children who have lost a father or mother who were killed in the line of duty. The new school bearing Agent Camarena’s name will employ innovative teaching methods and the latest technology to provide a quality education to its 975 students.As they stream into their beautiful new school, boisterous with excitement, Kiki Camarena will be somewhere watching, no doubt proud and happy for the promise that they hold for America’s future.


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