Enrique Camarena Case

The case study offers an insight into the crime investigative approaches and the input of forensic techniques in establishing conclusive results. This case study revolves around a United States DEA special Agent, Enrique Camarena, who was abducted in February 1985, near the US consulate in Guadalajara, Mexico. At the time, the problem of drug trafficking by competing gangs was high. A few days after abduction of Camarena, another DEA officer, Capt. Alfredo Zavala was also abducted. The ensuing series of investigations conducted by the FBI in partial co-operation with Mexican federal judicial police revealed the milestone in use of forensic science to manage sophisticated criminal scenes (Law Enforcement Bulletin, 1989). Diverse investigative methods were applied, including unique forensic techniques with the aim of establishing concrete evidence against suspected abductors for successful prosecution. The case study also explores the underlying corruption and professional misconduct associated with security agencies that connive with criminals to carry out or abet crime like in the case of MFJP.

According to the eyewitness who later identified suspected abductors, Camarena was forced into the back of a car just in front of Camelot restaurant. The MFJP were assigned investigation role under the leadership of Pavon-Reys who found out that two dreaded drug traffickers Caro-Quintero and Ernesto Fonseca might have been behind the abduction. As Quintero and his men tried to flee on a jet through Guadalajara Airport, MFJP and DEA agents confronted them but they were later successful allowed to board and leave under what is considered a bribe-motivated consent by Pavon-Rayes.

In February 1985 several houses, ranches and other buildings in Mexico were searched to find the body of the missing officers. However, there was no result. Owing to the increasing media attention, pressure of the US government and the raging debate by members of the public, high profile persons in the US and Mexico were forced to get directly involved in investigating the matter. Officers of MFJP, who feared being revealed as involved in protecting Quintero men, fashioned a plan to eliminate possible investigative traces (Law Enforcement Bulletin, 1989). Their agreement with Quintero men to draft a letter that would appear as written and delivered by Bravo-drug gang, indicating that the two bodies are in La Angostura ranch, proved the complicity of MFJP when the plan failed to work to perfection. During March in 1985, as MFJP ambushed and raided Bravo gang to kill its members and bury the body of two DEA agents before US officers could arrive so that the discovery of the two bodies would be associated with the gang and MFJP be vindicated. The men hired to bury the bodies in ranch failed and the subsequent discovery beside the road raised suspicion as it contradicted MFJP letter. The decomposing bodies were taken for autopsy and Camarena corpse sent to the US. Forensic evidence gathered from the dead officer’s cloths and hair showed no association with Bravo ranch and it was later discovered that the killing was done somewhere else. In a well-designed plan to satisfy the DEA on innocence of MFJP, they notified DEA that 881 Lope De Vega was the crime scene. However, MFJP kept DEA from starting forensic investigation until Mexico team had removed any possible evidence. DEA successfully found the car seen by witness as used to abduct Camarena. It was until DEA discovered licensed plate that MFJP showed aggression due to fear of being found out (Croft,et al.2004).

The second Mexican authorized forensic investigation by DEA brought in a new twist of events. A member of Quintero gang had confessed that some two Americans previously killed were buried in La primavera Park. When DEA did forensic tests on the soil in the park, they positively identify the place where the two DEA officers were murdered (Law Enforcement Bulletin, 1989).These new discoveries helped in nailing down all the criminals. However, the investigation was marred with obstruction of justice by dirty MFJP officers who tried to tamper with evidence.


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