State Department Offers $5 Million Reward in Enrique 'Kiki' Camarena Murder

Enrique ‘Kiki’ Camarena, DEA agent
Enrique ‘Kiki’ Camarena, DEA agent

Robert O’Dowd and Tim King

Two retired DEA agents say Kiki Camarena uncovered the connection between cocaine and the crack epidemic and the CIA operation to support the Contra rebels fighting to overthrow the Nicaragua’s government.
(WASHINGTON, DC) – The AP reported this week that the State Department is “offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest and conviction of freed Mexican drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero.”

Kiki as a Marine
Camarena was a U.S. Marine

The timing of the reward and the breaking news story in early October 2013 from two Mexican reporters that Kiki’s death was ordered by the CIA and not done by Rafael Quintero may not be just a coincidence. The official story is that Raphael Caro Quintero kidnapped, tortured and murdered Enrique Kiki Camarena, a former Marine and DEA agent, in Mexico in 1985.
Quintero was indicted by the U.S. attorney’s office for the Central District of California on a host of U.S. federal felony charges and is considered a fugitive from justice. Quintero was sentenced to a 40-year jail term in Mexico killing of the DEA agent when he was released in August 2013 after only serving 28 years. His sentence was overturned by a Mexican appeal court on procedural grounds. Quintero whereabouts are unknown. There’s no question that Quintero is a bad hombre but he may not have been the murderer of Kiki. The news reports that Kiki’s murder was ordered by the CIA, if factual, is a major embarrassment to the US. Is the $5 million reward for Quintero an attempt to quash the story of the CIA involvement in Kiki’s murder?
Luis Chaparro and J. Jesus Esquivel, two Mexican reporters, broke the news last month in El Diario de Coahuila (10-13-13) and Proceso (10-12-13) that Kiki was murdered on orders from the CIA. The motive for the murder was to prevent Kiki from blowing the whistle on narcotrafficking of cocaine into the US to fund the Contra War in Nicaragua. According to two retired DEA agents, Kiki uncovered the connection between the influx of cocaine and the crack epidemic to a CIA operation to support the Contra rebel faction in their fight to overthrow the Nicaraguan government. The Borderland Beat reported that the El Diario de Coahuila and Proceso represented:

A story that sounds like it was taken from a complex espionage novel has just exploded on U.S. television.  Enrique Kiki Camarena, the DEA law enforcement officer murdered in Mexico in February, 1985, was apparently not the victim of the Mexican capo Rafael Caro Quintero, but rather, of a dark member of the CIA. This individual was the one charged with silencing the anti-narcotics agent for one serious reason: he had discovered that Washington was associated with the drug trafficker and was using the profits from the drug trafficking to finance the activities of the counterrevolution.

Felix Ismael Rodriguez

Rafael Caro Quintero

Three former U.S. federal agents decided to end a 28-year silence and simultaneously entrusted this journal and the U.S. Fox News services with an information “bomb”: Enrique Kiki Camarena was not murdered by Rafael Caro Quintero — the capo that served a sentence for that crime — but by an agent of the CIA. The reason: the DEA agent discovered that his own government was collaborating with the Mexican narco in his illegal business. In interviews with Proceso, Phil Jordan, former director of the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC); Hector Berrellez, former DEA agent, and Tosh Plumlee, a former CIA pilot, claim that they have evidence that the U.S. government itself ordered the murder of Kiki Camarena in 1985. In addition, witnesses have pointed to Felix Ismael Rodriguez, a CIA operative, as the murderer. “It was I who directed the investigation into the death of Camarena”, says Berrellez, and he adds: “During this investigation, we discovered that some members of a U.S. intelligence agency, who had infiltrated the DFS (the Mexican Federal Security Directorate), also participated in the kidnapping of Camarena. Two witnesses identified Felix Ismael Rodriguez. They (witnesses) were with the DFS and they told us that, in addition, he (Rodriguez) had identified himself as “U.S. intelligence”.

Nicaraguan Sandinistas In the 1980s, the Reagan administration saw the Nicaraguan Sandinistas as Marxist-Leninists, a threat to this hemisphere, working with the Soviet Union and Cuba to spread their revolution throughout Central America. If this nightmare came to pass, then the US would be threatened by Communist forces in this hemisphere or, at least, that was their line of reasoning. Their fear was not shared by much of the American public and Congress who were not interested in getting involved in another Vietnam. The Reagan Administration made no secret about their support of the Contras and their opposition to the Sandinistas. This was not the 1930s, the US couldn’t invade Nicaragua and overthrow the government but the administration seized on an opportunity to support covert actions against Nicaragua. There was no need to put US boots on the ground in Nicaragua when the Contras could be supported with weapons and supplies to do the job. Formed in 1981 to resist the Sandinistas, the Contras were composed of ex-guardsmen of the National Guard (Guardia Nacional); Nicaraguans who had supported the revolution but felt betrayed by the Sandinista government; and Nicaraguans who opposed the Sandinistas’ increasingly socialistic, anti-democratic regime.

Former Marine Eugene Hasenfus arrested by the
Sandinistas after his C-123 was shot down 5 Oct. 1986

The Boland Amendments outlawed military assistance to the Contras for the purpose of overthrowing the Nicaraguan government. The restriction prevented the use of appropriated funds, but the administration by using non-appropriated funds and the National Security Council (NSC) staff found a way around the law.
The Iran-Contra Affair attempted to circumvent Congress by using the profits from the sales of weapons to Iran to fund the Contras. Supplies were air dropped to Contras in Nicaragua. A connection to the NSC and the White House was made when a Southern Air Transport C-123K aircraft was shot down on a resupply mission in Nicaragua in October 1986. On October 5, 1986, a Fairchild C-123K dropping supplies over Southern Nicaragua is shot down by the Sandinistas. Eugene Hasenfus, a 45 year old cargo handler and former Marine, is the sole survivor. He was wearing his parachute when the aircraft was hit. It saved his life. Hasenfus tells his Nicaraguan captors that the flight was part of a CIA-sanctioned operation. The ‘cat is literally out of the bag.’ Hasenfus’ capture and photo is published across the US in newspapers. The media is all over the story. President Reagan fires North from the NSC in November 1986.
Lt. Col. Oliver North
U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North

Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North was point man for Iran-Contra, involved in negotiations with the Iranians, shipments of TOWs and Hawk missiles to Iran used in the trade of arms-for-hostages and diversion of funds from the sale of arms (marked up over costs) to the Contras, keeping the Contras supplied with weapons in violation of the Boland Amendments. His testimony to Congress was riveting, drawing millions of viewers away from the “Soaps” on TV. Some Marines were angry because he wore his Marine Corps greens at the hearings when he was on assignment from the Corps to the NSC and not taking orders from the Corps. Even those who think he’s a liar and willing to do anything to support the Commander in Chief have to be impressed with his composure and responses to aggressive questioning. An Annapolis graduate he retired from the Corps as a lieutenant colonel. His boyish good looks charmed millions of viewers.
There’s no question that North was a dedicated, talented, and successful salesman for the Reagan administration at least until the Fairchild C-123K was shot out of the air over Nicaragua on October 6, 1986. Before they could be impounded, North took his notebooks (2,848 pages of daily notes from September 1984 through November 1986) from the While House after he was fired from the NSC staff by President Reagan in November 1986. North turned the notebooks over to his lawyer who asserted his Fifth Amendment Rights when the notebooks were requested by the Senate’s Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations (the Subcommittee). North or his attorney censored 1,269 pages of the notebooks before turning them over to Kerry’s staff for review in December 1987, according to the Subcommittee. Congress granted North immunity but he still objected to handing over the full notebooks. The Subcommittee concluded that the deletions in the notebooks made it difficult to determine the full extent of “narcotics trafficking.” Despite the deletions and refusals to hand over all of the notebooks in the possession of North (now a former NSC employee whose classification clearance had been terminated), the White House’s position was that the notebooks were “federal property and subject to classification at the highest level.” Some of the entries in North’s notebooks found by the Subcommittee to be related to narcotics include:

May 12, 1984…contract indicates that Gustavo is involved w/drugs (Q0266)
June 26, 1984, DEA—followed by two blocks of text deleted by North (Q0349)

June 27, 1984, Drug Case—DEA program on controlling cocaine—Ether cutoff—Columbians readjusting—possible negotiations to move refining effort to Nicaragua—Pablo Escobar—Columbian drug czar—Informant (Pilot) is indicted criminal—Carlos Ledher—Freddy Vaughn (Q0354)

July 9, 1984, Call from Claridge—Call Michael re Narco Issue—RIG at 1000 Tomorrow—(Q0384)

DEA Miami—Pilot went talked to Vaughn—wanted A/C to go to Bolivia to p/u paste—want A/C to p/u 1500 kilos—Bud to meet w/Group (Q0385)

July 12, 1984, Gen Gorman—Include Drug Case (Q0400)

Call from Johnstone—(While House deletion) leak on Drug (Q0402)

July 17, 1984, Call to Frank M—Bud Mullins Re—leak on DEA piece—Carlton Turner (Q0418)

Call from Johnstone—McManus, LA Times—says/NSC source claims W.H. has pictures of Borge leading cocaine in Nic (Q0416)

July 20, 1984, Call from Clarridge—Alfredo Ceasar Re Drugs-Borge/Owen leave Hull alone (Deletions)/Los Brasiles Air Field—Owen off Hull (Q0426)

July 27, 1984, Clarridge—(Block of White House deleted text follows)—Arturo Cruz, Jr.—Get Alfred Caesar on Drugs (Q0450)

July 31, 1984, –Finance: Libya—Cuba/Bloc Countries—Drugs…Pablo Escobar/Fredric Vaughn (Q0460)

July 31, 1984, Staff queries re (White House deletions) role in DEA operations in Nicaragua (Q0461)

December 21, 1984, Call from Clarridge: Ferch (White House deletion)—Tambs—Costa Rica—Felix Rodriquez close to (White House deletion)—not assoc. W/Villoldo—Bay of Pigs—No drugs (Q0922)

January 14. 1985, Bob Owens—John Hull—no drug connection—Believes (Q0977)

July 12, 1985, $14 million to finance came from drugs (Q1039)

NORTH CONVICTIONS VACATED BY COURT In 1988, for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal, North was charged with sixteen felonies, convicted on three felonies (accepting an illegal gratuity; aiding and abetting in the obstruction of a congressional inquiry; and ordering the destruction of documents). He was sentenced to a three-year suspended prison term, two years’ probation, $150,000 in fines, and 1,200 hours community service. North’s convictions were vacated, after the appeals court found that witnesses in his trial might have been affected by his immunized Congressional testimony.
North didn’t have the authority to pull this off on his own. He reported to National Security Adviser Robert C. McFarlane, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel and Annapolis graduate, and then to his successor, Vice Admiral John M. Poindexter. On paper Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North was the deputy director of political-military affairs. The facts support that North was the point man on Iran-Contra. He was literally all over the map, negotiating with the Iranians for what amounted to arms for hostages deal with the mark-up over costs going into secret bank accounts to purchase weapons and supplies for the Contras in Central America. His notes support that he knew about the narcotrafficking activity. North was still working for the NSC when Kiki was murdered.
There’s no evidence that North knew about Kiki’s activities and his success in connecting the influx of cocaine into the US to the Contras. The aircraft that flew the weapons South and the cocaine North were CIA proprietary planes. North had to know that the C-130s and P-3s were flying narcotics into the US and the moneys were used to support the Contra War and to purchase weapons and military supplies. He just chose to look the other way.
The testimony of the two retired DEA agents is troublesome. There’s no question that the Justice Department can interview these men, determine the sources for their information and, if confirmed, then initiate a criminal investigation even at this late date. There is no statute of limitation on murder. If Caro Quintero didn’t murder Kiki, he’s still a bad hombre, but that’s not an excuse for allowing others to get a free pass on the torture and death of a good man.


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Robert O’Dowd served in the 1st, 3rd and 4th Marine Aircraft Wings during 52 months of active duty in the 1960s. While at MCAS El Toro for two years, O'Dowd worked and slept in a Radium 226 contaminated work space in Hangar 296 in MWSG-37, the most industrialized and contaminated acreage on the base. Robert is a two time cancer survivor and disabled veteran. Robert graduated from Temple University in 1973 with a bachelor’s of business administration, majoring in accounting, and worked with a number of federal agencies, including the EPA Office of Inspector General and the Defense Logistics Agency. After retiring from the Department of Defense, he teamed up with Tim King of to write about the environmental contamination at two Marine Corps bases (MCAS El Toro and MCB Camp Lejeune), the use of El Toro to ship weapons to the Contras and cocaine into the US on CIA proprietary aircraft, and the murder of Marine Colonel James E. Sabow and others who were a threat to blow the whistle on the illegal narcotrafficking activity. O'Dowd and King co-authored BETRAYAL: Toxic Exposure of U.S. Marines, Murder and Government Cover-Up. The book is available as a soft cover copy and eBook from See: