The Death of Kiki Camarena: Retired DEA agents claim 'Narcos: Mexico' showrunner hid truth about CIA's hand in brutal murder
Mexican drug cartels, a murder plot, bloodshed, and betrayal — 'Narcos: Mexico' paints a gory picture of the confusion surrounding US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Kiki Camarena Salazar's gruesome torture and murder over 30 long hours.
As the Netflix show readies itself for another season in 2020, the former director of DEA’s powerful El Paso Intelligence Center in Texas, Phil Jordan, and retired DEA agent Hector Berrellez spoke exclusively to MEA World Wide (MEAWW) and disclosed how the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was directly involved in Camerana's brutal killing.
The tragic incident took place at the peak of the US drug war of the 1980s and is considered one of the most heinous crimes ever committed against the DEA in Latin America.
The popular Mexican norteño folk band Los Broncos de Reynosa called attention to the allegation 25 years ago in one of their well-known drug ballads played in local nightspots. It was soon dismissed as a mythical fable made up over shots of tequila.
It is said that after Kiki broke a gigantic marijuana ring operating from a ranch called Rancho El Búfalo, where Mexican soldiers destroyed some 1,000 hectares of cannabis in 1984, the drug cartel ordered his capture and murder.
He was kidnapped at gunpoint in Guadalajara, blindfolded and taken to a ranch house outside the city where he was tortured over a three-day period; his skull, jaw, nose, and cheekbones were crushed with an iron rod. However, both Phil and Hector clearly deny Kiki's involvement in the Buffalo Ranch.
While Rafael Caro Quintero, a Mexican drug trafficker, was accused and given a 40-year-sentence for Camarena’s murder, he was freed after only serving 28 years and then he vanished from sight to become one of the most-wanted criminals.
Dropping major revelations, Jordan and Berrellez said that CIA agent Félix Ismael “El Gato” Rodríguez was also involved in the case and how Hector Berrellez directly spoke to the showrunner to not twist the facts but he chose to ignore his warning and knowingly, and conspiratorially, cover up the CIA involvement in the drug trade.
Moreover, Oliver North, a contract worker for the CIA, Felix Rodriguez, and others were responsible for bringing cocaine to the US via Mexico and some of them directly into the US through Arkansas, Nina, and San Diego.
Kiki Camarena's murder is one of the most heinous crimes ever committed in Latin America. But what is it exactly that makes you say that the CIA was directly involved in the brutal torture and murder of the DEA agent?
Phil: It is well documented that during that time period, when Kiki was tortured and murdered, the CIA was complicit in bringing tons of cocaine, selling the cocaine to the godfathers of the drug trade and then using that money to buy arms to fight the Iran Contra war. It also superseded the Boland amendment. Moreover, Oliver North, Philip Rodriguez, and others were responsible for bringing the cocaine to the US via Mexico and some of them directly into the US through Arkansas, Nina, and San Diego. I spoke to three informants who are under the witness protection program for the United States government. They were present when this happened and have firsthand information about the case which reveals how the CIA was directly involved in Kiki's murder.
Did you know Kiki on a personal level? How shocking was it at that time for the administration?
Phil: It was extremely shocking, I did not expect it. We knew each other personally. I was doing an audit in Mexico and that's when he came to pick me up. The whole time, we were followed by at least four DFS (Mexican intelligence agency Dirección Federal de Seguridad) officials. When I pointed out this fact to Kiki, he said, 'Don’t worry, they work for the CIA and protect the drug lords.' Nine months later, according to three witnesses, Kiki’s kidnapping was facilitated by an ex-US customs agent transferred to DEA.
I also knew that Kiki was soon going to be transferred out of Mexico. I wanted him to request to be transferred to Texas so that I could have a great case maker and agent on board but he wanted to go back to California.
Have you seen 'Narcos: Mexico'? Do you feel the makers fictionalized the entire plot and hid relevant details in its portrayal?
Phil: I saw about three to four episodes and it made me sick to my stomach. Netflix has all the wrong people in charge. Kiki Camarena never worked on the Buffalo Ranch marijuana farm. It was Hector Berrellez in charge of Operation Leyenda. And, and they've got all the elements of truth mixed up. As a matter of fact, your article factually stated that Netflix doesn't want to mention the CIA. The CIA was responsible for setting up all this stuff, and one of the CIA operatives, according to the three informants was directly in touch with North and Rodriguez. I'm not putting the blame on on on anybody. But, I feel the Netflix makers should not distort the fact that Kiki was kidnapped by the police.
Hector: I investigated the case for seven years, complicit in the murder of somebody now. And like I said, it's all gonna come out. It's still being investigated right now. And what's really sad is that I told I told Eric Newman, the showrunner for Narcos, I told him the truth, and he chose to cover it up.
When you told Eric Newman about the CIA's involvement and misrepresentation of facts in his series, what was his reaction?
Hector: I directly spoke to the 'Narcos: Mexico' showrunner Eric Newman in front of all his writers and told him it is not true. Kiki Camarena was no way involved in the Buffalo Ranch. In the last episode of season one, they show Kiki in the Búfalo Marijuana fields. It is a false narrative and a perpetual lie. It is a lie cooked up by the government. Moreover, it was not the drug cartel but the DFS agents, who are trained and work under the CIA. They kidnapped, interrogated and tortured Camarena. It is strange that Camarena's former supervisor James Kuykendall is a technical advisor on the show and he knew that Camarena was not involved with Búfalo but chose to go with the false story. It is shocking as to how Newman could have not checked these facts before filming the story. Kiki was picked up because he knew that drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero's ranch in Veracruz Mexico was used by Ollie North to train Contras. Two Mexico reporters were assassinated prior to Kiki because they were going to report the CIA, DFS, and trafficker collusion.
Phil: It is my understanding from the agents stationed in Mexico that Kiki Camarena never worked on the Buffalo ranch. Instead, he was working on the Veracruz Mexico project. I never spoke with Newman but Hector told me that he told Newman about the CIA's involvement and that a corrupt ex-customs agent transferred to DEA accepted bribes to facilitate the kidnapping of Kiki. This corruption aspect was supported by three witnesses who delivered cash to the agent. I was not aware of the betrayals until after I retired.
If DEA knew about the CIA's involvement, why did the allegations surface just recently, around the year 2004? Why did the administration keep mum for so long?
Hector: The CIA has notoriously worked with criminals. They became partners with the drug lords and one of them among them was Pablo Escobar when he was quite young and also became partners with a cartel in Mexico. And then they were running a major gun-running operation through the town of Mexico to the airport. If it came out into the open, it would bring the connection between the CIA and the BFS in public view. Already in controversy over selling weapons to the Iranians during the Iran Contra war, they didn't want to expose it.
Phil: That's a question you have to ask the government I mean, you know, they use the smuggling of this cocaine under the false pretense of national security. Moreover, there is a murder of a federal agent involved which reflects how s**tty national security is. After that, the government of Mexico put out an arrest warrant for technical barriers. By the way, there's another big Mexican official who was later assassinated in Laredo, Texas. He told me in person that the CIA was involved in the Camarena situation after I retired.
Stay with us as we bring out the Part II of this interview with retired US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents Phil Jordan and Hector Berrellez.