Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was a DEA agent who was brutally tortured and murdered in the Mexican city of Guadalajara in 1985. Last week media in the United States and Mexico published a story stating that the CIA was allegedly involved in Kiki’s murder.
Camarena’s murder resulted in the Reagan Administration closing the border between Mexico and the United States as a means to pressure the Mexican government to find the people responsible for killing its DEA agent. Shortly there after, the Mexican government arrested Rafael Caro Quintero, a powerful drug kingpin, and sentenced him to 40 years in prison. Coincidentally, he was released a couple of weeks ago after serving only 28 years due to legal technicalities.
Last week, three people who claim to have personal knowledge of the case, came forward to get their story published. Tosh Plumlee, former pilot for the CIA, Phil Jordan, former director of the El Paso, Texas Intelligence Center, and Hector Berrellez, a former DEA agent in charge of the Camarena’s murder investigation.
According to them, Camarena was murdered because he found evidence that linked the CIA to a complex operation of drugs and gun trafficking with Mexico and South America to finance the Contras in Nicaragua. At the time, Nicaragua was run under a Marxist Sandinista regime, and the Contras militia was receiving help from the United States to overthrow the Sandinistas. It sounds dramatic, but lets remember that back then, in its effort to outwit the Soviet Union, the US government supported radical factions in Afghanistan as well.
All three sources point to a former Cuban CIA agent, Felix “El Gato” Ismael Rodriguez, as the real murderer of the former DEA agent. Berrellez stated that in fact several CIA agents participated in the kidnapping and torture of Camerena. They even affirm that the CIA itself helped drug kingpin Caro Quintero to flee to Costa Rica in a plane piloted by one of Plumbee’s CIA colleagues.
Of course, the publication of this story provoked a wide reaction in both countries. On one hand, the CIA responded that the story was so ridiculous that it did not even deserved a response. On the other hand, Mexican authorities involved in the case, such as Manuel Barlett, who was head of the DFS - the Mexican institution responsible to investigate the case – responded by saying he had no knowledge of the presence of any American agents in Mexico at the time.
The truth is that these allegations are – until now – nothing more than allegations. However, if more evidence comes to surface and proves these allegations right, the implications that would have for Mexico-US bilateral relations and the two countries’ collaboration on limiting the drug trade will be endless. Conspiracy theories are never popular, and this might – or might not –be the case of yet another American undercover operation that was run in Mexico. As so, it deserves a proper follow up, not only by the media but also by both governments who ought to investigate these allegations properly and transparently. Anything less will greatly undermine the collaboration mechanisms created to fight drugs and criminal organizations in both countries.