Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

How KKiki Camarena's Murder Nearly Brought Down the Mexican Government and Economy

Saturday, August 10, 2013 |

by "DD" for Borderland Beat
 

From Tijuana to Brownsville, Texas, along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexican border, everything on wheels moved at a lentissimo pace last week, when it moved at all. At the point known locally as the "world's busiest border crossing," between Tijuana and San Ysidro, Calif., the usual 20-minute delays on the 22- lane northbound approach plaza dragged on for as long as seven hours.  
 
The number of U.S. motorists heading south had dropped dramatically. Howls of pain rose from local businessmen as the supply of vacationing gringo customers dried up.
U.S. Customs agents at every one of the 15 official crossings into Mexico carried out an excruciating campaign of car-trunk by car-trunk inspection known as Operation Camarena. They were acting on direct orders from Customs Service Commissioner William von Raab, who in turn was responding to an appeal from Francis M. Mullen Jr., head of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
 
The ostensible aim of the exercise: to discover the whereabouts of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena Salazar, 37, who was abducted by four machine-gun-toting men on the streets of Guadalajara on Feb. 7, 1985.

No one seriously believed that Camarena, an eleven-year DEA veteran, would turn up in the search. Instead, the border operation was the Reagan Administration's way of trying to force the Mexican government of President Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado to step up its hunt for the missing agent.

 Camarena was stationed in Guadalajara (pop. 3 million), a major center of the proliferating drug industry. He was kidnaped in broad daylight, less than two blocks from the U.S. consulate. Camarena's abduction was not reported for 18 hours; bystanders may have logically thought that they were watching a drug arrest. Five days after his disappearance, the U.S. embassy in Mexico City offered a $50,000 reward for information on Camarena's whereabouts.

(Part one of a TV miniseries about the Kiki Cameranis story is posted below along with a link to the other 5 episodes).

U.S. suspicion in the kidnaping focused on two drug-trafficking families, headed by Miguel Felix Gallardo and Rafael Caro Quintero who has been in the news lately because of the siezure by the US of properties held by his family.
Rafael Caro Quintero detained

In private, U.S. officials complained that Mexico was not doing enough in the hunt for Camarena. From Washington, Attorney General William French Smith sent a cable of complaint to Mexican authorities, expressing "frustration and disappointment" at the pace of the investigation.
Other messages flew back and forth between Ambassador Gavin and Mexican officials, including President de la Madrid.   President Reagan and President de la Madrid talked about it in a phone coversation.  (I don't know who called who).

In Washington, Ambassador Jorge Espinosa de los Reyes presented a formal note to the State Department expressing his government's "profound concern" at the border operation. The Customs campaign, said the note, was "incongruous with the spirit of cooperation" that exists between the two countries. Meanwhile, the Reagan Administration's controversial Ambassador to Mexico, John Gavin, returned to Washington for consultations.

High on the list of Gavin's topics was whether to issue a State Department travel advisory that would warn American tourists to use caution when visiting Mexico.
Such an advisory would damage Mexico's $2 billion tourist industry, the country's second- largest foreign exchange earner after petroleum.

U.S. unhappiness in the Camarena affair inflamed another increasingly sore point in bilateral relations, the safety of ordinary Americans south of the border.

Mexico's economic woes have also made those tourists attractive targets for criminals. Last year there were 627 reported incidents of violent crime against American visitors. Four Americans were murdered, and four were raped.
From The DEA Wall of Honor Killed in the Line of Duty
In the vicinity of Guadalajara and the resort town of Puerto Vallarta, one American was murdered, eight were robbed, and eleven were burglarized during the month of January. In the first week of February three American women were sexually molested, one in the bathroom of a luxury restaurant.

Since December, seven Americans, including the DEA agent, have disappeared. Benjamin and Patricia Mascarenas of Ely, Nev., and Dennis and Rose Carlson, of Redding, Calif., all Jehovah's Witnesses, are believed to have been abducted while distributing evangelical literature. On the night of Jan. 30, John Walker and Alberto Radelat failed to return to Walker's Guadalajara apartment after they went out for a drink.

The bodies of Walker and Radelat were found in a 6 ft. well in the San Isidro Mazatepec Park.  Walker was from Minneapolis and Radelat was from Fort Worth, Texas.

Mexican drug kingpin, Rafael Caro Quintero, was charged  with killing Walker and Radelat after they stumbled into a private party in a Guadalajara restaurant Jan. 30.

Caro Quintero was also  charged and convicted of  murdering U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena Salazar, who was kidnaped Feb. 7 in Guadalajara.

A tip from witness Francisco Tejeda led police to the bodies. Earlier statements by Tejeda, who also was being held in the Camarena case, led to arraignment of Caro Quintero in the Walker and Radelat killings.

Tejeda said Caro Quintero was dining with a group of people in La Langosta restaurant, a hangout for drug traffickers, when Walker and Radelat walked in.

He said Caro Quintero ordered the two men seized and taken to a restaurant storeroom, where they were stabbed with ice picks to force them to say why they had entered the restaurant. Then they were beaten and taken to the well to be buried, Tejeda said.

The U.S. ambassador to Mexico, John Gavin, earlier told reporters that Caro Quintero may have mistaken the men for U.S. drug agents.

Walker had been living in Guadalajara for nearly a year doing research for a novel on the Mexican drug underworld. Radelat was visiting him.

Tourism,  accounts for 8% of Mexico's foreign exchange earnings, and any pressure by the U.S. to steer visitors away from the country would be very troublesome to the economy

The U.S.-Mexico fracas could hardly have come at a worse time for the Mexican government, which already has a surfeit of problems. Burdened by a $96 billion foreign debt, the second largest in the Third World, after Brazil's, The International Monetary Fund was threatening to withhold $1.2 billion in credits from Mexico unless the country sets economic performance targets that were more to the IMF's liking. That possibility in turn could delay a complicated $48.5 billion refinancing of Mexico's debt by private, mainly U.S banks.

Atop all that travail, Mexico's ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party is enduring one of its most serious political challenges in 56 years. The De la Madrid administration, which came to office in 1982 amid promises of "moral renovation," is facing a popular backlash, particularly in the north, where riots against alleged P.R.I. election fraud have sputtered for weeks.
Increasingly, Mexican ire is directed at a P.R.I. legacy of corruption, graft and lawlessness that De la Madrid's new broom has been unable to sweep away. Says Wayne Cornelius, director of the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California at San Diego: "This is the most important and crucial political year since 1968." That was when Mexican troops shot at student demonstrators in the streets of the capital, killing more than 200.

Mexico's economic fragility, the de-facto shutting down the border crossings, the threat of a US State Dept. travel warning in effect saying "stay out of Mex.", the unraveling of bi-lateral relations between the US/Mx., and the "mini rebellion" in the north of Mex. against the corruption of the PRI government are a study in unintended consequences that created a perfect storm.  

It kind of reminds me of the Cuban missle crisis when a wrong move by either party could have resulted in disastrous consequences - crashing of the Mexican economy and possibly the fall of the Mexican goverment, both having dire consequences on the US economy.

Buy Mexico arrested and convicted Rafael Caro Quintero for the murder of "Kiki  Camarena and sentenced Caro Quintero to 40 years in the pen and Bill Clinton negotiated a bailout (loan) to help Mexico out of its financial crisis.  Mexico repaid that loan in full ahead of schedule.

Disaster avoided.
This is the Drug Wars Movie of the Camarena history  part 1.
 other installments are on following page


 

 

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46 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Boycott Mexican products

Anonymous said...

So Reagan was president last week? This is confusing as hell

Anonymous said...

Squeacky Macarena was as corrupt as they come.

Anonymous said...

Camarena was undercover, Mexico is the one who spread lies that he was corrupt, it is the Mexico way, when guilty frame the other guy. There have been few cases where a person was scrutinize more that Camarena. there has never been any proof he was anything but a hero. Mexico was hoping his undercover work would be proof. Agents play a role.

it was his insistence that the Bufalo Ranch be raided, Mexico did not want to. He pushed hard and that is why the government and narco crooks hated him. To that point nothing made Mexico look so corrupt in the eyes of the world and the US had proof.

If you are interested gather sources and read in detail all the indictments and material. No just say "I heard" what the fuck is that? heard from who? God?

Anonymous said...

Yes he pushed hard because he wasn't getting any money from whoever owned the marijuana plantation.

Anonymous said...

When all of this happened , burro!

Anonymous said...

"El agente de la DEA Camarena, fue secuestrado por su relación sentimental con
Sarah Cossio, una amante de Rafael Caro Quintero, con la intención inicial de
simplemente "darle una calentada" y enseñarle una lección..." Arthur C. Werge, Jr., Special Agent (http://www.reneverdugo.org/pdf/Related%20Matters/FBI/FBI%20Reporte%20Sobre%20Sara%20Cossio.pdf)

Anonymous said...

Enrique Camarena despite Mexico novela was and always was an DEA agent in Mexico. He died a hero and was given full honors as such. A bust of Kiki is at the entry of many DEA offices.

This notion that Mexico tried to hang its hat on to circumvent diplomatic procecution is ridiculous as much as the people that bought it. Agents in Mexico are called "SA" or Special Agent. In every government document he is referred to as Agent or DEA Special Agent. Obviously some of you think reading a blog is being informed and educated. Read the trail transcripts, indictments 1-6- FBI reports 1-2, he was an agent, and when joining the agency never left it. He was at the DEA office on the feb day he was kidnapped. He left his gun in his desk as he was not allowed-like all US agents to be armed off duty- he was off duty because he was meeting his wife and children for lunch.

Mexico fabricated, without one drop of evidence bullshit in this case. why? start with a presidents BIL being a part of the kidnap and torture, and the Jalisco Governor. two other officials were at the scene which came out in trial.

don't be stupid-if you can help it.

Anonymous said...

History repeats itself.

Caro has two Heavy Indictments against him in the U.S.
The whole time he was in prison in Mexico, he was considered a Fugative here in the U.S.

The firestorm will only be restoked with gasoline. This story broke going into the weekend. Come Monday, Uncle Sam will start flexing.

Anonymous said...

Caro Quintero is the true hero. He was blamed for a crime he did not commit, both the US and Mexico governments are crooked ass fuck. He took it like a g and did time in prison, yes he was/is a kingpin but he didn't need to kill Camarena, Camarena was paid off. The US didn't think Camarena was good anymore so they pushed the Mexican government to frame Quintero and imprison him. Quintero was betrayed by paid off Mexican authorities who he ordered to be killed for their betrayal after he was charged with the crime that Mexican authorities did under the US orders.

Anonymous said...

Hey Chivis,

I there was a guy in the valley years ago that had escaped a California federal prison and was apprehended by U.S. Marshalls. The news paper said his mistress turned him in. It also said he was involved in the Kiki murder. I believe it was in the Mission/Alton area were he was hiding out. What's the status on him? How much time did he get and was he convicted of the torture and murder of Kiki?

Anonymous said...

Uncle Sam won't do shit. Its done and over he's out when the ones that should of been locked up where the real murders Mexico's politicians. The USA lawmen are so stupid they still suck their thumb with what ever they say. Its the same in USA you really want change well the real crooks politicians are the cancer. Like your boss at atf sending guns but your okay with that even though those guns killed USA lawmen

Anonymous said...

10:50

Finally someone that knows the facts. Yes he was always DEA and died DEA, usually the assignments at least now are for 2 years in Mexico but one can extend their assignment. It may surprise people as it did me that there are 500 applicants to every DEA opening in Mexico. Agents move their families with them. All mail goes thru brownsville or other tx addresses as to protect identifying the location. In reality it is now a potentially dangerous deployment, but in numbers a very safe one because of safeguards in place, initiated by Kiki's murder.

Anonymous said...

The DEA always maintained, among the highest standards of honesty and respect. To imply that Special Agent Enrique (Kiki ) Camarena was retaliated upon due to anything less than doing his duty is ludicrous. The narco scum (Quintero) had already shown that he was using a bit much of his own product. Quintero Most likely needed information on the narco rats within his own orginiazion. Quintero's mistake was that back then, The U.S. Government was willing to stand up in broad daylight and say " don't do that" regardless of the consequences to the economy. We got our stuff straightened out back then. Today, Caro and Chapo are high fiveing while doing a little jig atop a pile of cash. Kiki is missed but his spirit lives within the everyday heroes that work hard to support legitimate commerce and stamp out the criminal element. R.I.P. Kiki.

Anonymous said...

Think about what you say, may be some politicians won't like missing what they need in their noses to wake up happy.

Anonymous said...

This shit aint over by a long shot!

Anonymous said...

Look at Camarena's eyes and then look at Z40's eyes in their respective pictures. Abismal difference.

Anonymous said...

chivis there is a wall of honor for agents killed in the line of duty, it is on the DEA website.
http://www.justice.gov/dea/about/wall-honor/wall-of-honor_bios.shtml

would you please post this. Uneducated people believe Camarena was not an agent at the time of his death. This was false propaganda perpetuated by the PRI party Mexico to circumvent prosecution. He died an agent and hero. All the negative stories came from organized crime and the Mexican government.

Anonymous said...

I did not know about the flow of traffic to Mexico coming to a standstill. I looked it up and it was even worse than this article states.

Kiki was an agent, it must be Mexicans stating otherwise, Mexico's citizens believe everything their corrupt leaders and narcos say, instead of researching themselves.

Anonymous said...

The narcos dont pop DEA agents for fun ... especially with recorded torture ... what did Camarena know or what did he do that was the reason for killing him???

Anonymous said...

when reagan was asleep in the white house,George h w bush. was vice-president,and oliver north, elliot Abraham's and the CIA were dealing drugs to finance the contras,back in the 80's,no wonder the death got their Guy assassinated

Anonymous said...

kiki camarena,guey,gueyote,do we have to keep making everything clear for you ass?go to wiki.

Anonymous said...

Money does not move everything in the world bitch,but it is everything for the Judas,the Pharisees and the Philistines,there is not much new under the sun for a long time now.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention that the 80% of our food that comes from Mexico was not getting through in a timely manner.
Talk about shooting ourselves in the foot.
Bringing the Mexican government down because of the searches along the border?
You've got to be kidding.
I know what effect the Camarena issue had between the two governments.
And it was not the Hollywood version you are giving here.

Anonymous said...

I like Mexico's stance on corruption, they are very proud of it...

Anonymous said...

I do not support the killing of anybody, but this dude was no angel either. Doing cocaine and having hot girl friends is not kosher-period!!! I understand that you must do a line here and there so your cover won't get blown, but ask any of the old school people that met him.He liked to party- that is not a good agent!!!!

Anonymous said...

@2:08 DEA maintains the highest honor&respectability???? What world are you living in? The Bogata field office agents protecting the North Valley cartel out of Columbia. The whole Ollie North/Contra shipping out of Illapongo AFB. All examples of corrupt DEA field agents working hand-in-hand with drug traffickers. The careers of many honest DEA whistle-blowers were totally ruined for coming forward to reveal the corruption within the DEA.

The Silver Fox said...

Anyone with common sense knows that Caro Quintero paid out a lot of money for these idiotic judges to overturn his conviction! This is a slap to the American people and our elected officials in Washington just shrug their shoulders! Well Washington, have you learned anything yet? Mexico thumps their nose at the USA but they have their hand out when you idiots in Washington give them millions to line their pocket! Those SOB's still owe us water also, you dumbasses!

Anonymous said...

If YOU want to be so sure why the fuck dont you go ask rafa?? never be 100 percent on whatever the fuck you read on the internet.. thats how easy itis for your government to mindfuck you dumb asses..

Anonymous said...

Ah que si serras! Follow along idiot...The writer is taking you back to the 80's pendejo!

Anonymous said...

It's very simple. If you don't want U.S. agents to kidnap you and murder you in Mexico, don't go to Mexico. Like I said simple.

Anonymous said...

Arriba el numero 1. Puro sinaloa

Anonymous said...

"among" the highest. Get hooked on phonics and name three large law enforcement agencies that are free from any impropriety. In the span of many years and many agents, you mention some incidents that don't seem to fall squarely on the DEA. Even so, I would make the same assertion about most of our federal law enforcers. My opiñion is based, in part, on having known several of KIki's colligues and other federal agents. Every one of them has character that is beyond reproach. Their accounts of KIki's work are of honorable service.

Anonymous said...

He was only doing his job, trying to stop narcotics from reaching the USA.

Anonymous said...

LOL is obvious they are exaggerating on this article. They think Mexico will be doom without the U.S. It is childish.

Anonymous said...

The United States is also proud of their corruption. Mexico is not the only one. Just look at the NSA.

Anonymous said...

We don't owe shit to the USA, pendejo.

Anonymous said...

I would find it hard to talk shit about a person like Camarena and then look back and see his accomplishments both professionally and with family. I remember being in middle school and feeling bad about seeing his son all bummed out, I put myself in his place and couldn't imagine growing up without my father. Saludos d TJ/SY!

Anonymous said...

When is the U.S. government/media going to stop being hypocritical. There is blood on the hands of many a CIA/ Pentagon officials when it comes to narco trafficking during the times of Kimi Camarena. These govt. criminals flooded the streets of America which brought dire consequences in terms of violence, addictions, murders, and incarcerations; in fact, a drug trafficker was given s job by the DEA, maybe
Caro Quintero can look into this case, and immunity from prosecution. That man was Oscar Blandon : A Nicaraguan national who sympathized with the CIA backed Contras in Nicaragua. Blandon and Norwin Meneses were assisted/protected by the CIA in trafficking/distributing narcotics in the U.S. They played an integral role, along with Rick Ross, in the introduction of rock form of cocaine into the American drug trade. Somebody mentioned
Ollie North. Who did he work for? He violated the U.S. constitution in order to assist a group that was funded ny drug traffickers. El Senor de los Cielos had nothing on the U.S.military usage of C-130s inorder to traffic drugs into U.S. When it comes to blood on its hands for the killings of milliins of innocent men, women, and children, and the millions of lives that were altered because of drug trafficking, the U.S.A. has nothing on Rafael Caro Quintero. How can we judge people for crimes that our government also carries out. Not to down Mr. Camerena, however, we lost 300 marines on a single attack in Lebanon in 1983. I don't hear their story hardly ever mentioned.

Anonymous said...

@ 935

My point exactly. The DEA having among the highest level of respectability??? They've protected more high level narco-traffickers than any other federal orginization outside the C.I.A. (Barry Seal, Blandon, Mermelstein,etc.) The "War on Drugs" is their sole purpose. I know there are honest DEA agents, but to say they have the highest level of respectability is just funny. Hooked on phonics? I understood your post just fine buddy, I'm calling B.S. in case YOU can't comprehend

Anonymous said...

Yea the dea get their rocks of by busting plant merchants. Y'all feel like heros hahaha your the scum of the earth who everyone just looks at and say stop your embarrassing your self. Taking people to jail over plants and stimulants while your country sells hard drugs at any regular store. The drug war is a cruel joke and it's slavery. The cca tryn to fill its prison and gain free slaves. F the dea, F private prison, and F slavery, and F drug war supportes, its your fault things are so messed up like damn leave people alone don't nobody care about your bigot views we in 2013 get over your selves.

Anonymous said...

Mexico owes a lot of money,to the USA and many other countries,money our heroes of corruption stole to invest in foreign bank accounts,most all we keep in Mexico is the corruption flowing down from our leaders to the people.the money us expropriates doesn't go back to messico,right?somebody tell me?

Anonymous said...

The reaganauts don't want any mention of Reagan's failures,and I don't think the us has treated drug traffickers like this maricon "Rafa", treated kiki camarena.the us should treat camarena's torturers just the same,they would soon discover that they can sing,in many languages.go USA!

Anonymous said...

DEA collaborators have been killed for spilling the beans,specially when they come from the CIA.I don't know exactly who or how many,but Barry Seal was CIA at first,it is well docummented.and the CIA don't comment on any of this BS,think what you may.CIA vs DEA needs some investigating?

Anonymous said...

August 14, 2013 at 5:17 AM
"its your fault things are so messed up like damn leave people alone don't nobody care about your bigot views we in 2013 get over your selves"
Dude thats a classic.A Mexican calling people bigots?The most racist people without doubt commenting on this blog are Mexicans?
True or false ?

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