October 25th through 29th is Red Ribbon Week: This year's ribbons, once more curtesy of the KY National Guard, specifically calls for the 'remembrance of Kiki Camerena'. I sent this out last year but in case you've not heard or have forgotten the following briefly tells the reasons behind Red Ribbon Week which is celebrated across the USA. If you've received a ribbon please consider wearing it and if you haven't and want to acknowledge the event simply wear red one day and explain the significance to others."
Enrique Camarena: The hero behind the Red Ribbon
In 1985, when DEA agent Kiki Camarena was murdered by drug dealers in Mexico, they ended his life but not his dream. Here is Kiki's story.
Growing up in a dirt-floored house in Mexico, Enrique Camarena wanted to make a difference. When he was little, he begged his mother for a toy gun. "I need a gun," he said, "because I'm going to be a policeman when I grow up." At nine, Kiki moved with his family to the United States to pick fruit.
After excelling in high school, Kiki faced a critical turning point. His friends were headed for trouble, and he had to decide whether he wanted to follow them into a life of crime and drugs. The deeply engrained desire to make a difference won out, and Kiki opted to stay straight, working his way through college and earning a degree in criminal justice.
Following stints in the Marines and the police force, Kiki joined the DEA in 1974 and asked to be transferred to Guadalajara, Mexico, the center of the drug trafficking empire. While investigating a multi-billion dollar drug scam, he confiscated thousands of pounds of cocaine, and hundreds of thousands of pounds of marijuana. He suspected the drug scam involved officers in the Mexican army, police and government. Kiki was a believer that one person CAN make a difference and he sacrificed his life to prevent drugs from entering the United States. It was the best way he knew to stop drugs and to help people he cared about. His mother, concerned about dangers inherent in his job, tried to talk him out of it. "I can't not do this," he told her. "I'm only one person, but I want to make a difference."
In early 1985, the DEA sent Kiki to work undercover in Mexico. For weeks he lived among the drug cartel, gathering information and evidence. He was ready to wrap up his assignment when his identity was discovered. It was February 7, 1985 at 2:00 p.m. a warm winter afternoon in Guadalajara, Mexico, when U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Enrique (Kiki) Camarena locked his badge and revolver in his desk drawer and left to meet his wife for lunch. Kiki unsuspectingly crossed the street to his pickup truck. While unlocking the doors to his vehicle, he was grabbed by five men who shoved him into a beige Volkswagen. One month later, his body was discovered in a shallow grave. Kiki and his informant, Alfredo Zavala Avelar, were savagely and grotesquely murdered.
In 1985, the National Federation of Parents for Drug Free Youth joined with DEA and implemented a Red Ribbon campaign that spread to places as far away as Europe. The National Red Ribbon Week is celebrated every year October 23-31, and is dedicated to Kiki Camarena and all of the people who have been wrongly killed due to the violence of drugs.
To honor his memory, and to show that they would continue his fight against illegal drugs, friends and neighbors wore red badges of satin. Then parents who had come together in local coalitions to fight the drug problem took Kiki as their model, embracing his belief that one person can make a difference, and adopting his symbol--the red ribbon--as their own.
Since then, millions of Americans have gotten involved in, and been touched by the Red Ribbon Campaign efforts. No other single drug prevention movement has had such an impact on so many lives.