Washington, D.C. – The 2019 Red Ribbon campaign is dedicated to preserving the memory of DEA Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena – a DEA special agent who was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered in Mexico by drug traffickers. Red Ribbon Week, October 23-31, furthers the cause for which Camarena gave his life, as communities across the country pledge to fight against the violence of drug crime and the misery of addiction.
First Lady Melania Trump joined DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon to celebrate the official launch of Red Ribbon Week in rally on Tuesday, Oct. 8.
The Red Ribbon rally “actively engaged our youth and resulted in so many of our children choosing to take the pledge and to live drug free,” said First Lady Melania Trump. “I applaud the tough work that the Drug Enforcement Administration, alongside so many of our agencies, is doing in the fight against drug abuse. Agent Camarena’s story is, unfortunately, all too common and I want to thank Mrs. Camarena and her entire family for choosing to share their story to help drive the changes needed. I hope my visit this morning helps to highlight the importance of Red Ribbon Week in schools and communities nationwide.”
At the kickoff celebration, DEA Acting Administrator Dhillon led 150 students in the pledge to lead a drug-free life.
“Red Ribbon week is a time to remember those who have given everything in the fight against dangerous drugs,” said Acting Administrator Dhillon. “DEA honors their sacrifice by working with communities and prevention specialists to encourage the next generation to sign the Red Ribbon pledge and live drug-free.”
The National Red Ribbon Campaign – the nation’s largest drug prevention effort – began after drug traffickers in Mexico tortured and brutally murdered Special Agent Camarena in March 1985. Officially celebrated across the nation from October 23-31, communities and school districts nationwide hold events throughout the month in recognition.
Red Ribbon Week started as a local effort in Special Agent Camarena’s hometown of Calexico, California, when former Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Camarena’s high school friend, Henry Lozano, created Camarena Clubs to keep Kiki’s memory alive. The National Family Partnership turned Red Ribbon Week into a national drug awareness campaign, an eight-day event proclaimed by the U.S. Congress and chaired by then President and Mrs. Reagan.
By gathering together in community events and wearing a red ribbon during the last week in October, Americans from all walks of life demonstrate their opposition to drugs. Also during Red Ribbon Week, students in communities and schools across the nation pledge to live drug-free by wearing the ribbons and participating in community-wide anti-drug events.
Approximately 80 million people participate in Red Ribbon events every year.
Interested in hosting and participating in Red Ribbon events? Individuals and communities are encouraged to go to www.DEA.gov/redribbon for ideas and opportunities. These can include sponsoring drug abuse prevention events; hosting an exhibit table at a local hospital, community center, or shopping center to promote drug abuse awareness; or even simply wearing and handing out red ribbons to friends, family, and community members to increase drug abuse prevention awareness.