Federal officials are investigating whether a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent kidnapped and killed by a Mexican drug cartel was betrayed by officials within the U.S. government.
Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was abducted in the Mexican state of Jalisco in 1985 and tortured to death over a period of 30 hours on a ranch by affiliates of the Guadalajara cartel.
Numerous cartel figures were arrested in connection with Camarena’s death, which was dramatized in the Netflix series “Narcos: Mexico,” in which he is played by actor Michael Peña. Recently, Justice Department officials have obtained statements implicating both a DEA official and a CIA operative in the plot to abduct Camarena, USA Today reported.
DOJ officials began reexamining the case in 2019 after a federal court tossed the convictions of two men implicated in the killing, leading federal authorities to re-interview several witnesses.
During these interviews, three former Mexican police officers who have also worked as security for cartel bosses told investigators the American officials were present at meetings where the kidnapping plot was discussed, the witnesses told USA Today.
Authorities have interviewed the witnesses several times, although it remains unclear how seriously they take the allegations, and people familiar with the case told the newspaper it is unlikely to bear much fruit given the amount of conflicting evidence the case has already produced.
Connections between the U.S. government and the cartels have long been the subject of speculation, particularly after revelations that the U.S. partnered with both Colombian and Mexican cartels to supply arms and funds to the Contras in Nicaragua.
“I’ve dealt with everything else,” Camarena’s widow Mika told USA Today. “Why not this?”
Camarena said prosecutors and agents have confirmed to her that witnesses have provided accounts connecting the CIA operative and DEA official to her late husband’s kidnapping, but did not provide details beyond the existence of the investigation.
“I want the truth to be out,” she told the newspaper. “At this point, nothing would surprise me.”
The Hill has reached out the Justice Department for comment.