Kiki Camarena, DEA Special Agent

Mika Camarena with Kiki’s Bronze Bust

Mika Camarena with Kiki’s Bronze Bust

Enrique S. Camarena Salazar was an undercover special agent who worked for the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). His mission and that of the DEA is to eradicate all forms of illegal drug use throughout the United States.

Kiki, as he was known to his family, friends, and co-works was abducted and died in February 1985. A proud Mexican-born American, Kiki’s loved his country and was always concerned about the drug-related problems that existed. Determined, he took on the streets of Mexico to locate and uncover marijuana and cocaine traffickers. During his career as an undercover special agent, Kiki uncovered multi-billion-dollar drug operations in Mexico.

Despite knowing the danger involved in his work, Kiki worked tirelessly to bring about a change in the communities he served.  Whenever his mother asked him to leave his risky job Kiki told her that someone had to stand up against drug trafficking and he was confident his work was making a difference.

DEA Special Agent and Hero

Kiki's Red Ribbon School Celebration Logo

Awards, Achievements, and Honors 

  • Received was 'Administrator's Award of Honor', the highest award given by the DEA.

  • 1985, 'Red Ribbon Week' was started in his memory. The Red Ribbon Week is an annual Drug Awareness Campaign that teaches children and young adults the ill-effects of drugs.

  • 2004, Enrique S. Camarena Foundation was established in his honor.

  • 'Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks' introduced an annual award ceremony called 'Enrique Camarena Awards'. The award is given to individuals who show determination, courage and locus.

  • In 2017 a bronze bust of Kiki was commissioned and placed on permanent display in the DEA New Orleans Division Office

Childhood, Early Life, and Professional Career

1947 - Born on July 26 in a small town called Mexicali. When he was nine, his family moved to Calexico, California.

1963-65 - Served in the United States Marine Corps

1966-68 - Attended Imperial Valley College earning an associate degree. During his college days, he also worked as a fireman in Calexico. He then joined the police department in Calexico.

1970 - Transferred to El Centro, California, where he began his work as a narcotics investigator.

1974 - Appointed as a Special Agent in the Drugs Enforcement Administration (DEA). His primary mission was to eradicate drug trafficking in the country.

1981 - Moved to the Guadalajara office in Mexico for four years gathering information about the various illegal drug operations and activities in the surrounding areas.

1984 - Acting on information provided by Kiki, 450 Mexican soldiers backed by a helicopter destroyed Rancho Bufalo a 2500-acre marijuana plantation destroying over $8 billion in illegal drugs.

1985 - Kiki was abducted by drug traffickers and later died.