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DEA agent Enrique Camarena was on his way to meet his wife for lunch near the U.S. consulate in Guadalajara, Mexico when he was abducted by cartel gunmen in broad daylight.
Camarena, who was behind a series of hefty drug seizures linked to Caro-Quintero in the 1980s, including a whopping $2.5 billion bust, had been actively wiretapping the cartel, USA Today reported. His and his pilot’s body were later unearthed at a remote ranch, The New York Times reported. Holes had been drilled in his head, his skull had been crushed, and he had been tortured with a cattle prod, according to National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ.
But more than 30 years later, the U.S. Department of Justice is reportedly re-examining new evidence in the case that may indicate a CIA operative and the DEA were aware of the cartel’s plot to murder Camarena, according to the man’s widow and other witnesses in the case.
Camarena’s widow Mika was reportedly approached by federal agents who confirmed witnesses provided statements implicating a CIA agent and a DEA official and that the claims were being investigated.
“I want the truth to be out,” Mika Camarena told USA Today. “At this point, nothing would surprise me.”
However, officials didn’t reveal the scope of the renewed investigation to her.
In 2017, two of the men sentenced in Camarena’s death had their convictions thrown out after the Justice Department admitted the investigation had been botched. As investigators began to reinterview witnesses, a startling accusation repeatedly emerged: federal agents not only worked hand in hand with Mexcian cartels to unload massive shipments of cocaine and marijuana — they were also complicit in Camarena’s death, USA Today reported.
“You can’t just put it in a drawer and forget about it,” an unidentified federal official told USA Today, regarding the allegations.
Three of those witnesses, former Mexican police officers and cartel henchmen Ramon Lira, Rene Lopez, and George Godoy, all told the outlet that they were approached and interviewed at length by federal investigators in 2018. They alleged a DEA representative and a CIA operative had been in attendance of meetings where Camarena’s kidnapping was being planned — and also claimed that the DEA official had accepted cash from the drug syndicate.
“There is too many ghosts behind me,” George Godoy told USA Today. “We need to make justice.”
The Department of Justice declined to comment on the allegations on Monday.
However, it’s not the first time that U.S. officials have been accused of somehow partaking in the DEA agent’s slaying.
"In (Camarena’s) interrogation room, I was told by Mexican authorities that CIA operatives were in there,” Phil Jordan, a former CIA agent, told Fox News in 2013. “Actually conducting the interrogation. Actually taping Kiki.”
Other investigators intimately involved in the investigation into Camarena’s death also echoed similar claims.
"The CIA was the source,” Hector Berrellez, another former DEA agent, previously told Fox News. “They gave them to us. Obviously, they were there. Or at least some of their contract workers were there."
Caro-Quintero, who fled to Costa Rica after the slayings, was eventually extradited back to Mexico and was convicted in the kidnapping and murder of Camarena. He received a 40-year prison term for his role in Camarena’s execution. In 2013, he was prematurely released from a Mexican prison, a decision which enraged then-President Barack Obama’s administration.
A Mexican federal court issued a warrant for Caro-Quintero's arrest days after his premature release, but he has never been apprehended. Caro-Quintero was indicted in a California U.S. District Court on a slew of charges and remains at large. He’s currently on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.
Camarena’s son, a county judge in San Diego, declined an opportunity to speak on the case by citing ethical concerns, USA Today also reported.
Camarena's investigation of the cartel, and his death, were dramatized in the first season of "Narcos: Mexico" on Netflix.
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