Camarena Murder

Drug control has been an important issue between the United States and Mexico since the 1960s. The abduction and murder of U.S. DEA agent Enrique Camarena in Mexico in February 1985 elevated the drug issue on the bilateral diplomatic agenda of the two countries. The murder focused public attention on the perhaps decreasing effectiveness of Mexican drug-control efforts and represented a turning point in U.S.-Mexican relations. After Camarena's murder, drugs became a confrontational issue at uncharacteristically high levels of the two governments. Both the U.S. secretary of state and Mexico's foreign minister discussed the murder and subsequent government response as a paramount diplomatic issue; drug control was no longer treated only as a law-enforcement issue between the two countries. In response to continuing U.S. pressure, the Mexican government took a series of actions that resulted in the apprehension and incarceration of the several drug traffickers responsible. Nevertheless, tensions between the two governments remained high throughout the 1990s, as trafficking and corruption increased.

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