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"Sergio Espino Verdin was the individual who directed the torture and interrogation of Enrique Camarena," Cortez said.
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But according to Delaunay and Cortez, most of Camarena's killers are either in prison or dead, including the doctor responsible for keeping Camarena alive as corrupt cops and drug traffickers tortured him to extract information about the DEA's operations in the area.
Cortez and DEA informant Antonio Garate Bustamante who was also kidnapped were released after the DEA resident in charge arrived at the police station and relentlessly demanded their release, according to testimony before Congress.
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"One of the first individuals that I was involved in arresting was Jesus Felix Gutierrez," Delaunay said.
An Associated Press article from Aug. 19, 1986, describes Cortez's return. At the time, Cortez was barred from talking about the incident.
After Camarena's death, his family and friends in Calexico, Calif., began wearing red satin ribbons to celebrate his life. And in 1985, through the efforts of President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, combined with the National Family Partnership, Red Ribbon Week was created to educate the nation's youth about the dangers of drugs and to honor Camarena's memory.
kept him alive to continue to torture him and extract information," Cortez said. "It was one of the biggest investigations that the DEA had ever undertaken. So, later, of course, with the arrest of Dr. Alvarez Machain, the DEA was told to cease and desist the investigation."
And Cortez said at the time he would have rather put a bullet in his head than go through the torture session because he had listened to the tapes made of Camarena's torture session.
"When I returned to a location in Guadalajara after doing some surveillance, I didn't pick up the counter surveillance," he said. "And when I parked to make a long story short two individuals approached me and, uh, first they showed me credentials and badges, which doesn't really mean anything in Mexico, and one thing led to another."
investigative team that was in pursuit of these perpetrators that were responsible for the kidnap, torture and murder of Kiki Camarena," he said.
But while Cortez was investigating Camarena's death, as well as working with other agents to make significant cocaine interdictions in Mexico, he was kidnapped and tortured.
Even though he thought he was going to be murdered, he didn't give up.
"Shortly thereafter, the DEA set up a taskforce and asked for volunteers to go down to Mexico, and specifically Guadalajara, to assist in searching for our DEA agent," Cortez said.
"That was like a slap in our face not only to DEA agents but to the American people and especially the Mexican people because we knew that all he (Quintero) knew was drug trafficking. And I believe he will continue to go back to his old ways as a drug trafficker," he said.
Cortez called Quintero's release a disgrace.
Retired agents recall death of Red Ribbon Week hero
"Unbeknownst to me, in the vehicle, were a few AK 47's that belonged to the informant," he said.
Cortez said he was working surveillance with an informant. Men took the informant's vehicle as Cortez worked to figure out who his informant was staying with in a house Nike Flyknit 4.0 Black Mens
Cortez said he made a mistake because of complacency and didn't search his informant's car.
"The first arrest was in Mexico, the arrest of an individual named Sergio Espino Verdin, and that was in May of 1986," Cortez said. "I was the one responsible for his arrest."
So Cortez volunteered and traveled to Guadalajara, but his mission changed after the DEA learned that Camarena was kidnapped by police officers working with drug traffickers who tortured and subsequently murdered Camarena. Immediately, the mission was to track down his killers.
In honor of Camarena, retired DEA agents Cortez and George Delaunay, who now work as investigators for Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz, sat down to talk to The Brownsville Herald about their work and experience trying to save Camarena and their work to vigorously investigate and arrest most of the people responsible for his cruel murder.
Gutierrez was responsible for coordinating and assisting drug kingpin Rafael Caro Quintero's escape from Mexico to Costa Rica. Quintero was released this summer from a Mexican prison after serving 28 years because an appeals court overturned his 40 year sentence on procedural grounds. Quintero is considered a fugitive by the United States.
Espino Verdin was a commander of Mexico's equivalent of the Central Intelligence Agency.
But the police tortured him with cattle prods and beat him for six hours. The head of the DEA office at the time said Cortez was subject to electrical shock treatment and had numerous contusions on his body.
When Delaunay joined, Camarena had been dead for a year.
"I tried to hang on because I left some clues and leads behind that I knew the DEA agents were looking for me and thank God that they did because I'm here today to tell the story," Cortez said. "Unfortunately, our friend, Enrique Camarena, is not able to tell his story. But in some way, I'm here telling his story."
"The doctor, (Humberto) Alvarez Machain. I was involved in trying to track down Machain. Alvarez Machain was the doctor who was present during the torture of our agent Kiki Camarena, and he was the one who Flyknit Free Runs
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