Home > Programs >

Red Ribbon Week

RedRibbon.jpgRed Ribbon Week is a tribute to Special Agent “Kiki” Camerena who was killed by drug traffickers in Mexico. Enrique "Kiki" Camarena grew up in a dirt-floored house with hopes and dreams of making a difference. He worked his way through college, served in the Marines, became a police officer and then joined the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as an undercover agent.

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, his 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. This began the continuing tradition of displaying Red Ribbons as a symbol of intolerance towards the use of drugs.

Today the Red Ribbon Campaign is the oldest and largest drug prevention program in the nation reaching millions of young people during Red Ribbon Week, October 23-October 31 each year. The mission of the Red Ribbon Campaign is to present a unified and visible commitment toward the creation of a Drug Free America.

In Santa Cruz County, law enforcement officers from the Sheriff’s Office, Nogales Police Department and Border Patrol are in the classrooms throughout the community talking about the dangers of drugs and giving children the tools they need to live drug free lives. The Sheriff’s Red Ribbon Ceremony, marking the start of Red Ribbon Week, is always sold-out and remains one of the most popular events of the year.