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on the border line between the US and Mexico

Friday, October 13, 2023

Besides Kiki Camarena, Other DEA Agents Also Died In Mexico

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

For decades, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has deployed personnel in Mexico to conduct operations to curb drug trafficking.

On March 5, 1985, the body of Enrique Camarena, a special agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) who had been kidnapped during the first days of February 1985, was found in a rural area of La Angostura in Michoac√°n.

Kiki, as the officer was also known, had spent more than four years in Mexico infiltrating a meticulous network of corruption and drug trafficking headed at the time by Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo and Rafael Caro Quintero: the Guadalajara Cartel.

True to the values of the US anti-drug agency, Kiki Camarena came close to dismantling one of the most important lucrative businesses for the criminal organization until his kidnapping and murder thwarted his plans and unleashed a diplomatic crisis between Mexico and the United States.

Almost four decades after his murder, the stars and stripes country continues to demand the extradition of Rafael Caro Quintero - accused of torturing and ordering the murder of the special agent. However, the legal defenders of the so-called Narco of Narcos have managed to promote several appeals to stop the process.

Kiki Camarena's murder is the DEA's most recognized case

Although due to the brutality of the crime and the historical context, the case of Enrique Kiki Camarena figures as the most severe blow that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency suffered in Mexico. Throughout the years they have deployed operations in the Aztec country, other agents whose names and faces are rarely remembered have also lost their lives.

Stafford E. Beckett and Charles Archie Woods

Since 1973, the DEA adopted the mission of enforcing U.S. controlled substance laws and bringing to justice members of organizations involved in the cultivation, manufacture or distribution of narcotics destined for illicit trafficking in U.S. territory.

However, as a precedent, in 1921 two U.S. agents who were part of the Border Department were killed on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Murdered DEA agents in 1921

Their names were Stafford E. Beckett and Charles A. Wood, agents who were assigned to investigate and curb alcoholic beverage trafficking after Prohibition took effect in the United States.

In Mexico, Juan Nepomuceno Guerra, from Tamaulipas, Mexico, structured an alcoholic beverage trafficking network that, after the repeal of the law in the United States, changed its focus to the trafficking of arms and drugs, thus laying the foundations for the historic Gulf Cartel.

Stafford and Charles were part of the group of agents assigned to combat illicit operations and, in March 1921, they tracked down a shipment of 23 cases of liquor that Mexican smugglers planned to smuggle into the United States.

The operation involved a mobilization of federal agents, which sparked a shootout at the border. According to the DEA's account, in that raid, Officer Stafford killed a suspected Mexican smuggler whose funeral drew a large crowd. However, both he and his partner Charles A. Wood lost their lives at the ages of 31 and 35 respectively.

James T. Lunn y Ralph N. Shaw
DEA agents who died in Mexico in 1976

The history of drug trafficking in Mexico positions the state of Guerrero as one of the epicenters for the cultivation of poppy, that peculiar flower from which farmers extract opium gum that is later processed to produce drugs such as heroin.

Hectares of this type of crops have been destroyed in Mexican territory and, in order to locate them, authorities have counted on the collaboration of the U.S. anti-drug agency, as happened in 1976 when special agents James T. Lunn and Ralph Shaw were appointed to work with the Mexican government to reduce opium production.

James T. Lunn was an experienced pilot and flew multiple missions over the Mexican countryside in search of poppy fields until May 14, 1976 when he and Special Agent Ralph Shaw flew north of the port of Acapulco.

Both DEA officials did not realize that they had flown into a low altitude canyon and, despite their experience and effort, James T. Lunn failed to maneuver the plane to keep it from crashing to the ground. The pilot and Agent Ralph Shaw - aged 35 and 40 - were killed instantly.

Susan Hoefler
DEA agent who died in Mexico

In May 1973, Susana Hoefler began her administrative career in the United States' largest counter-narcotics agency. Just one year later, she was transferred to the DEA Regional Office in Mexico City as a temporary employee.

Her skills as a typist and file clerk/mail clerk allowed her to be promoted in 1984 as an office assistant at the DEA's Guadalajara field office.

It was precisely at that time that the kidnapping and murder of Special Agent Enrique Camarena took place, and Susana was in charge of coordinating the flow of information between U.S. and Mexican authorities.

A year after Kiki's kidnapping and murder, in 1986, Susana Hoefler was involved in a car accident that left her with severe injuries that caused her death at the age of 32.

The Victor Cortez case

After Kiki's murder, another DEA agent was kidnapped

With tensions still running high between the U.S. and Mexico over the murder of Enrique Camarena, in 1986 another DEA special agent was kidnapped and tortured in Mexico.

In a situation similar to that of his colleague, Victor Cortez was kidnapped by members of the Mexican police, as confirmed by then U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese.

A report at the time by The New York Times states that it was police officers from the state of Jalisco who perpetrated the kidnapping and torture of the DEA special agent and that they were even planning to murder him.

Allegedly, Victor Cortez had been subjected to torture including electric shocks after weeks prior to his kidnapping, some 2,200 pounds of cocaine had been seized, a heavy loss for traffickers in and around Guadalajara.

The Mexican government argued at the time that the DEA agent had not been mistreated and that he had only been detained briefly. However, pressure from U.S. authorities increased and they asked for an investigation of the officials involved in the case as well as the death of Susan Hoefler, whose version was always handled as accidental.

After his rescue, Victor Cortez was deported to the United States, where he continued to work as a DEA agent until his retirement in 2008.

William Ramos
DEA Agent Killed in Mexico in 1986

The U.S.-Mexico border was once again the scene of the murder of a federal agent in 1986. William Ramos, who was assigned to the McAllen Texas district office, was shot and killed at the age of 30.

Years before becoming a DEA agent, William was a Border Patrol agent and upon joining the DEA he was assigned to the McAllen Texas District Office.

On New Year's Eve, Special Agent Ramos posed as a drug trafficker and agreed to meet with a well-known smuggler identified as Felipe Molina Uribe to buy 300 pounds of marijuana.

The meeting took place in an eastern suburb of McAllen in a DEA Special Agent's undercover vehicle, from where he signaled his team to execute the arrest of Molina Uribe.

As the arrest team approached the vehicle, William Ramos and the drug trafficker engaged in a struggle in which Molina Uribe ended up shooting the agent in the chest, resulting in his death.

The aftermath of Don C. Ware

DEA agent assaulted in Mexico

A number of DEA agents have risked their lives in the tough fight against drugs they lead in different parts of the world. In Mexico, Don C. Ware was charged - along with his colleague Wilfred Stevenson - with conducting an investigation of a heroin trafficking organization in San Rio Luis Colorado, Sonora.

During the operation, both special agents were kidnapped by members of the criminal organization, who repeatedly beat them until they opted to transport them to a desolate desert location.

In the process of their escape, both Don C. Ware and Wilfred Stevenson were assaulted with firearms, leaving them with severe medical complications.

Don C. Ware remained in critical condition for months and underwent multiple surgeries and intense medical treatment. After his partial recovery, the agent remained active in the DEA office in Las Vegas, Nevada until his retirement in 1995.

In 2004, the special agent again underwent surgery to try to mitigate the ravages that the armed attack he suffered in Mexico left on his body. However, a series of complications ended up claiming his life that October.

On several occasions, the DEA has been accused of violating Mexico's sovereignty due to the stealthy operations they carry out in the country. However, and although there are agents who have been linked to organized crime itself, their collaboration with Mexican authorities has also allowed them to win battles in the fight against drugs, regardless of the fact that their lives are at stake.


  1. Good find. It's bursts the bubble for those who imagine cartels would be finished if they hurt federal agents. Cartels hurt American citizens on a daily basis with their drugs and there's no sign of them stopping.

    1. This is fluff. Of course, looking at the amount of DEA personnel in Mexico, more than just one would die. Susan Hoefler died in a car crash.

    2. @7.23. I don't think you read the article, or where Milenio got it from. None of them died because they were targeted as DEA agents. Hoefler died in a car crash, 2 others in a plane crash, and the others in a misunderstanding. As for Ware and Stevenson, Brrrrr...

    3. Cartels hurt U.S. citizens on a daily basis with their drugs??? That's a stupid put blame for my own actions and responsibilities on someone else comment. It's like if someone decides to keep running across the freeway over and over and when they get hit your going to blame the car. Drugs are illegal for a reason but those citizens you talk about choose to break the law by buying them and consuming them. They aren't forced or even talked into it by anyone let alone cartels. 98-99% of those people have no contact or interaction with any cartel member during these transactions. Do how do you figure that. Your comment is nonsense. I would think that those citizens are more backers of cartels because that money the spend on drugs funds the cartels. They're the ones that keep them in business. So in part they're murderers because they know people in Mexico are going to get killed with the money they're providing to thr cartels. It's those citizens choice to go out and get drugs, they do that willingly, even yearn for it. They are not forced, not even pressured to do it. But the people that are shot and killed, or kidnapped and butchered, or caught it a cross fire, those people don't voluntarily go through that. The try to avoid it. Run away from it. Who volunteers to get shot, or have their head cut off? These are the things that those citizens you talk about fund. They no that when they go out and buy those drugs, but they keep funding them by buying those drugs. So save that stupid shit your talking about trying to portray them as cartel victims. People are dieing due to their choich to fund cartels by buying those drugs while their over here enjoying their highs. But you want to talk about those citizens suffer because of the cartels. No you idiot, mexican citizens suffer because those people are funding cartels. Stop trying to portray them as victims when theyre the ones funding these cartels.

  2. When Caro Quintero gets transferred to the states, I hope the Bush, CIA involvements in dealing cocaine Iran/Contra and being present in Kiki death gets exposed.

    1. That’s why he hasn’t been extradited

    2. Caro Quintero did his time already. He will never go to USA.

    3. Caro never committed any crimes in the USA, he has paid his dues. Should be left alone to enjoy his remaining years in peace..

  3. Um, the first few werent DEA agents...would have been Prohibition (Treasury Agents) or then FBN (Narcotics Bureau) agents, DEA was 1970s.

    1. Yeah it says it right there "Since 1973, DEA adopted the mission of enforcing U.S. controlled substance laws..." This is Milenio journalism.

    2. Yeah, it says it's what eventually ended up being the DEA pretty much. It's like CDS was called the federation before because that's what they were. But people called them the sinaloa cartel because those in the federation were mostly from sinaloa. But back the no one boss was abouve the other . Choices were made as a group decision or in a democratic format. Now that isnthe case. Maybe they have two or three main bosses but the other bosses follow orders. It isn't areal federation any more and is more a cartel with less bosses and no real democratic format. Decisions are made and handed down. There isn't no group vote anymore. And no one really calls them a federation anymore. It's evoolved and turn into what a cartel is nowadays.

  4. "A coward dies a thousand deaths, a hero dies but once"

    1. "Those sans reality feign depth of thought in order to seek solace"

  5. Look into "Joe Palacios" out of San Diego.. He was a CI for the DEA who tried to go after the AFO but lost his life while on the job in TJ.

  6. It was a good read. Good article.

  7. In Narcos there's a DEA raid on the Chiapas airfield where agents died.
    Was this inspired by true events or just made up for the series?

    -Euro Gringo

  8. Conspiracy bs they are the cartel ware I live

  9. Great article. Rip to these people.

  10. That weed kiki is so proudly holding in photo looks so low quality , it’s all leaf and stem, no flowers. That’s the stuff I toss in the bin or turn into compost. Not worth being tortured and killed for.

    1. You fool you should not disrespect the who went through hell could you?

  11. The DEA did not exist in the 1920s it was created by Richard Nixon, July 1, 1973 and most of the crimes you’re talking about were before the FVN federal Bureau of narcotics the predecessor to the DEA… How could you screw up such basic facts about law-enforcement history versus drugs in this country, the Harrison act was passed in 1914, and made opiates and cocaine illegal. That’s all nothing else you could still walk in many pharmacies back in those days and by concoctions that still had opiates and cocaine in them.

  12. Its time to blow up a few manya garages ...


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