Slain DEA agent's sister carries message to school as part of Red Ribbon festivities

October 27, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Myrna Camarena told students at Blanche Charles Elementary School here Friday to never let the memory of her brother — slain U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena — die.

Myrna is the sister of "Kiki" Camarena, who was a Calexico police officer before he became a DEA agent. In 1985 he was tortured and killed by a Guadalajara drug cartel.

Camarena told the assembly of kids that if they remembered the sacrifice her brother made in the war against drugs, they would be emboldened to say "No" if they were ever offered illegal narcotics.

"You have a decision to make. Just remember what drug traffickers have done. Remember what they did to my family," she said.


Camarena's message to the students was one of a number of activities sponsored by the DEA and the California Highway Patrol that concluded Red Ribbon Week at Blanche Charles.

In addition to Camarena's message, the Blanche Charles kids listened to a presentation from Special Agent Jay Jernegan and were thrilled when a DEA helicopter landed on the school field.

Jernegan showed the kids the safety equipment agents wear in the line of duty while Special Agent Steve Speight, the helicopter's pilot, showed the kids the inside of the chopper.

Helping Jernegan in his presentation was 10-year-old fifth-grader Tina Williams.

She let Jernegan equip her in a ballistic helmet, a bullet-proof vest, elbow pads and a utility belt.

As Jernegan put on each piece of equipment he explained to the kids why it was important for the agents to be protected.

"To bust the bad guys we have to protect ourselves," he said.

After Tina was stripped of the gear and sat back down, Jernegan fielded questions.

A child in the front asked him if he had ever killed a drug dealer.

"No!" Jernegan answered emphatically.

He was asked by another child if he had ever shot anyone.

He said he hadn't but noted that each of the DEA special agents are trained to do so.

"We're going to hit them before they hit us," he said.

A child in the back of the assembly asked if he had ever been shot. Jernegan said he had not been shot.

Meanwhile, outside on the field students lined up and took turns checking out the chopper.

A class of kindergartners thought it was cool when Speight rotated the stabilizing rear rotor and made the main rotor on top of the chopper spin.

They thought the fumes from the motor at the rear of the chopper were decidedly uncool.

They held their noses in mock disgust and hopped about.

As the kindergartners filed away, Speight boosted some first graders up to see the cockpit of the helicopter.

Each of the kids sported wide eyes and big grins.

Red Ribbon Week was promoted nationwide in the late 1980s by former First Lady Nancy Reagan.

During the last week of October, schools throughout the country educate students of the dangers of illegal narcotics.

The symbolism of the red ribbon honors the memory of "Kiki" Camarena.

Shortly after his death was made public in the United States, Camarena's family and a number of Calexicans wore red ribbons.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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