The Origin of Red Ribbon Week

What is Red Ribbon Week? The Origin of Red Ribbon Week  began in the 1980s and today Red Ribbon Week is a United States initiative for the education and prevention of drugs, tobacco and alcohol abuse. During the week between October 23 – 31 each year, elementary schools, junior high schools, high schools, community groups and organizations focus their attention on the celebration of a  drug-free life.

How  All Began

Red Ribbon for KikiRed Ribbon Week began after the kidnapping, torture and murder of a DEA agent (Enrique “Kiki” Camarena) in 1985. For over four years he had been in Guadalajara, Mexico working undercover, with those efforts leading to the discovery of a multi-million dollar narcotics manufacturing operation in Chihuahua, Mexico.

His efforts not only led to the eradication of this and other drug production operations/facilities by the authorities, but also greatly angered several drug cartel leaders hellbent on revenge. They murdered key informants and hunted their “enemies.” Then on February 7, 1985 they kidnapped Camarena and his pilot, Captain Alfredo Zavala-Avelar (taken separately on the same day).

A tip was sent to the DEA by representatives of the Mexican Federal Judicial Police (MFJP), who claimed full knowledge of what had happened. According to them,Camarena had been mistakenly kidnapped by a man and his three sons. They invited the DEA to a raid of the man’s ranch in Angostura that they said would take place the following morning.

However, by the time the DEA agents arrived — at the scheduled time — the MFJP had already raided the ranch and killed five individuals. Not long after, a passerby discovered the bodies of both Camarena and Zavala-Avelar not far from the ranch, by the side of the road .

According to reports “The DEA’s investigation revealed that Camarena had been tortured before he was murdered. Audiotapes of the torture showed that medical doctors actually kept Camarena alive in order to continue the interrogation. Evidence collected revealed that both Camarena and Zavala-Avelar were initially buried in another location, then moved to the ranch where they were found.[4] The events that followed Camarena’s disappearance were chronicled in the U.S. media, exposing the world of drug trafficking — including how far drug traffickers would go to maintain power and control.” – SOURCE: Wikipedia.

The Origin of Red Ribbon Week

After their murders, citizens in Camarena’s hometown [in California] donned red ribbons in his honor. The red ribbon became their symbolic statement for prevention awareness — through Red Ribbon Week information and activities — in order to reduce the demand for illegal drugs.

Red Ribbon Week David Lozano — Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of USA Freedom Corps in 2007-2008 — in his younger years was a high-school friend of the slain DEA agent [Enrique “Kiki” Camarena]. So along with the Californian’s for Drug Free Youth Board of Directors, he created the first Statewide Red Ribbon Campaign in memory of his High School friend  in 1985.

With the support of Congressman Duncan Hunter and City Councilman David Dhillon, Lozano helped to promote “Camarena Clubs” in Imperial Valley, California. They were created in high schools, and club members then presented a proclamation to (then) First Lady Nancy Reagan, who had initiated nationwide anti-drug programs.

The following year, parent teacher organizations in California, Illinois and Virginia wore the red ribbons in late October and November. The first National Red Ribbon Week was organized in 1988 by the National Family Partnership (NFP) , proclaimed by the U.S. Congress and chaired by Nancy Reagan. During the administration of President Bill Clinton Red Ribbon Week information and activities grew into a nationwide service effort.

According to the DEA and the National Family Partnership, approximately 80 million people participate in Red Ribbon events and activities every year.

Join the movement and get some Red Ribbon Week banners, and other Red Ribbon Week products and supplies for elementary schools from our store.


Originally posted 2013-08-18 12:34:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

About Brie Austin

Co-author of I'd Do It Again, he is a columnist/reporter for a variety of magazines in the areas of music, lifestyle, nightlife, travel and business. He also writes business documents and creates copy for websites.