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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
October 27, 2005
Contact: S/A Elizabeth Jordan

(212) 337-2906

Empire State Building Illuminated
Red in Honor of Red Ribbon Week

Special Agent in Charge John P. Gilbride
Special Agent in Charge John P. Gilbride

OCT 27-- On October 25, 2005 the Empire State Building, a National Landmark, was illuminated RED in honor of the nation’s oldest and largest drug prevention program "Red Ribbon Week". The wearing of red ribbons was started in 1985 after the murder of DEA Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camerena in Mexico. Red Ribbon Week has come to symbolize the intention to live a drug-free life, and kids and communities all around the country participate in this campaign every year.

Special Agent Camarena was an 11-year veteran of the DEA assigned to the Guadalajara, Mexico, office where he was on the trail of the country’s biggest marijuana and cocaine traffickers. In 1985, he was extremely close to unlocking a multi-billion dollar drug pipeline. On February 7, 1985, he was kidnapped, brutally tortured, and murdered by Mexican drug traffickers. His tragic death opened the eyes of many Americans to the dangers of drugs and the international scope of the drug trade.

Shortly after Kiki’s death, Congressman Duncan Hunter and Kiki’s high school friend Henry Lozano launched “Camarena Clubs” in Kiki’s hometown of Calexico, California. Hundreds of club members pledged to lead drug-free lives to honor the sacrifice made by Kiki Camarena.These pledges were delivered to First Lady Nancy Reagan at a national conference of parents combating youth drug use. Several state parent organizations then called on community groups to wear red ribbons during the last week of October as a symbol of their drug-free commitment. The first Red Ribbon Week celebrations were held in La Mirada and Norwalk, California. In 1988, the National Family Partnership (NFP) coordinated the first National Red Ribbon Week with President and Mrs. Reagan serving as honorary chairpersons.

The NFP estimates that more than 80 million people participate in Red Ribbon events each year.The campaign is a unified way for communities to take a stand against drugs and show intolerance for illicit drug use and the consequences to all Americans.

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