The tragic death of DEA Special Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena inspired the creation of Red Ribbon Week. Every year millions of people across the United States pledge to live healthy, drug-free lives in his memory.
Celebrating a Hero's Life
On February 7, 1985, drug traffickers kidnapped DEA Special Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena. Authorities found his body in March. He had been beaten and tortured. Kiki was investigating marijuana and cocaine trafficking in Guadalajara, Mexico. He had been close to unlocking a multi-billion dollar drug pipeline.
In response to Kiki's death, "Camarena Clubs" united adults and teens against drug misuse. Students from Kiki's alma mater, Calexico Union High School in California, started the first club on April 20, 1985. The National Family Partnership coordinated the first National Red Ribbon Week in 1988. They encouraged students and community members to wear red ribbons in memory of Kiki and to raise awareness of the problems of drug misuse.
Kiki's murder mobilized the public and raised awareness about drug use and prevention. Today, his sacrifices continue to galvanize communities through Red Ribbon Week.