Story Behind the Symbol
Enrique "Kiki" Camarena
grew up in a dirt-floored house with hopes and dreams of making
a difference. Camarena worked his way through college, served in
the Marines and became a police officer.
When he decided to join the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration, his mother tried to talk him out it. "I can't
not do this," he told her. "I'm only one person, but I
want to make a difference."
The DEA sent Camarena to work undercover in Mexico
investigating a major drug cartel believed to include officers in
the Mexican army, police and government. On Feb. 7, 1985, the 37-year-old
Camarena left his office to meet his wife for lunch. Five men appeared
at the agent's side and shoved him in a car. One month later, Camarena's
body was found in a shallow grave. He had been tortured to death.
In honor of Camarena's memory and his battle against
illegal drugs, friends and neighbors began to wear red badges of
satin. Parents, sick of the destruction of alcohol and other drugs,
had begun forming coalitions. Some of these new coalitions took
Camarena as their model and embraced his belief that one person
can make a difference. These coalitions also adopted the symbol
of Camarena's memory the red ribbon.
The National Family Partnership organized the first
Red Ribbon Campaign in 1988. Since that time, the campaign has reached
millions of U.S. children.
Source: Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug