The John Carman Report

Operation "Kiki" Camarena

Ever since I was in the U.S. Customs Service, I wanted to do the best I could and to catch the most narcotics smugglers and to become one of the greatest "Narcs" that ever worked at the U.S./Mexican Border.

Even though Customs Management "lied" to me about being "stationed" in Calexico "for only one year". I had to say without a doubt, it was a very interesting and memorable experience. It was also hot and very uncomfortable in the summer time too! I was originally assigned to San Diego, but I was given a "special assignment" to work in Calexico because of the "integrity problems". Former Assistant District Director Fermin Cuza and former District Director Alan J. Rappoport were the one's responsible for that decision. They made it very clear that they were sending me to Calexico for a "special assignment" based on my previous law enforcement background and experience. They did a conference call to me and explained that I was to go to Calexico and work there because of my "integrity". At least that's what I was told. No special hazardous duty pay or anything. I was eventually transferred back to San Diego in June 1986 after making the most narcotics seizures and competing for a transfer to San Diego on a lateral transfer. This was after 3 1/2 years of working loyally in Calexico when I was promised "only one year in Calexico".

I had previously turned down several Customs positions in Calexico many times while I was still in the U.S. Secret Service. (Calexico is 116 miles east of San Diego in the lower desert and very hot) Sometimes the temperature can reach as high as 112 degrees on a "nice" day. The electric water cooler turns cold water warm and you have to put a wet neckerchief around the back of your neck to keep from getting heat exhaustion. I learned a lot of new desert survival tricks like that when I was there.

Between 1983-86 while I was stationed in Calexico, I had the privilege of meeting DEA Special Agent "Kiki" Camarena. Mr. Camarena was school mates with one of my Customs co-workers and a former Marine. This was before his untimely death and murder while he was on assignment for the United States Government in Mexico. Little did I know that Mr. Camarena and I would never meet again. He was later tortured and killed along with a pilot that was working with him in Mexico. I have personally heard from DEA and Customs contacts that knew the family and friends about the true nature of how he had died. Out of respect for his Family, I will not reveal this information. To this day, I don't see why our government doesn't extradite and convict Rafael Caro Quintero, Ernesto Fonseca, Felix Gallardo and others, for the torture and murder of an American DEA Agent.

I used to hear about the "gun regulations" governing how the Customs and DEA agents were to operate in Mexico without any personal protection. This is while they are on "Official" U.S. Government status and assigned to various American Embassies in Mexico. They didn't have "Diplomatic" status to my knowledge, but they were still recognized as being "Official" representatives of the United States Government. There are still current disputes between the Mexican Government regarding this practice of restricting our Agents while working in Mexico alone or with Mexican Officials.

While doing investigations in Mexico and meeting with informants, and other Mexican government officials, these brave men and women were not allowed to carry any firearms or shoulder weapons to defend themselves. I know many DEA officials that were "allowed" to carry weapons in other countries that the United States considered "allies" in the War on Drugs, but Mexico was not one of them! Mexico is still a "certified" country that receives millions of dollars from the United States and the American People. This money is out of control once it reaches the bank accounts of the Mexican President, his Cabinet and other Mexican corrupt officials.

Let me point out, that with the threat of torture and death, these agents were basically written off as "casualties" of the Drug War if caught or killed while in Mexico. The Customs and DEA administrations were fully aware of this policy and would rather deal with American Families and the Public, than protect their own people that did an almost impossible job. The Politicians in Washington,D.C have clearly demonstrated this and will not change unless we all get together and fight this "policy".

I have personally caught, and been a witness to several incidents at Calexico and San Ysidro border crossings for over 15 years regarding the interception of Federal Mexican "Agents" trying to smuggle fully automatic machine guns and handguns with silencers in brief cases. I have personally searched some of these same Mexican Federal Agents coming across the border into the U.S. who fit the profile of a very "nervous" and visibly shaken smuggler. It is very unsettling to intercept someone who is suppose to be in law enforcement that is working with us on the Drug War and see this response. I have searched a lot of persons of all levels and socio-economic status's, but the worst were the Mexican officials and Mexican Diplomats that I've searched. They all had something to hide. I have even heard stories about some of these guys carrying live handgrenades as well.(Yes , I've seized that stuff too!) On one other occasion at San Ysidro a "well dressed" Mexican Federal Judicial Police Agent was brought in for a "pat down" and an undeclared 9mm Beretta was discovered in this guys brief case. He was subsequently "ordered" to return the weapon back to Tijuana, Mexico "voluntarily" by a Customs Supervisor named Rogelio Cisneros. The Mexican Agent returned shortly thereafter with an "empty" briefcase. He was not "verified" nor was he patted down and then released by the same Customs Supervisor. The Mexican agent was enroute to Mexicali which is across the border from Calexico. I recall his story was, "that it was faster" to use our highways than to travel within his own country with a gun.(go figure!) (By the way, Customs Supervisor Cisneros has allowed other persons with undeclared firearms to cross into the United States without a proper inspection or verification. I guess he thought he had total control over everyone because of his GS-12 status and gold oak leaves on his collar.)

Anyway, during the time that DEA Agent "Kiki" Camarena was "missing" we were all ordered to complete a special operation called: "Operation Camarena".(1984-85) We were all told that we were looking for the "body" of Kiki Camarena who was probably killed in the line of duty while in Mexico. During this time we also had pictures of Felix Gallardo and Ernesto Fonseca and many others who may be connected with his disappearance. I would keep copies of these flyers to make damn sure I was the one who caught these bastards first. It never happened. We also had to open the hood, trunks, glove boxes, and check the front and back seats of "every vehicle that crossed" into the United States while this operation lasted. To the best of my memory, it only lasted a couple of weeks. It was a political "ploy" to force the Mexican government to turn over the body of the missing DEA Agent and the ones responsible for his disappearance. The traffic "back up" was over two hours on this operation.

It was later learned that "Kiki" Camarena was tortured and killed, along with his pilot. Their bodies were buried in an "unmarked" roadside grave in Mexico after they were both tortured and killed. It was later learned that these "murderers" also made a tape of the torture/murder. The personal outrage and desperation had finally hit me. Our government did nothing to protect these brave men who were working a most dangerous job that deserved better backing and protection.

We are still "certifying" Mexico even after millions of U.S. Dollars are sent to a corrupt government. I am getting tired of hearing Mexico claim that we are the ones responsible for our "demand" for the drugs that Mexico supplies! It is no excuse. They are a "source" country and should be treated accordingly.

How many more men or women have to die for their country before the "Administration" will force the Mexican allies to comply with our strict requirements or we cut them off financially? Isn't that what our money is being used for? To guarantee certain "cooperation" on the part of a certified country in the War on Drugs? Even other countries will give the DEA Agents access to their own automatic weapons and bodyguards while helping to train foreign drug agents and eradicate the narcotics before it crosses our Borders. If the DEA or Customs Agents only new how "expendable" they really were, they wouldn't go in the first place. I have yet to see any of these "important" politicians from Washington, D.C. put their lives on the line like a few of us have. What are they "exchanging" for our own lives and safety?

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