The National Family Partnership organized the first nationwide Red Ribbon Campaign in 1988. Since its beginning, the Red Ribbon Campaign has touched the lives of millions of people around the world. In response to the murder of DEA Special Agent Enrique Camarena, angered parents and youth in communities across the country began wearing red ribbons as a symbol of their commitment to raise awareness of the killing and destruction caused by drugs in America.
Enrique (Kiki) Camarena was a DEA Special Agent who was tortured and killed in Mexico in 1985. On Feb. 7, 1985, the 37-year-old Camarena left his office to meet his wife for lunch. Five men appeared at the agent's side and shoved him in a car. One month later, Camarena's body was found. He had been tortured to death. In honor of Camarena's memory and his battle against illegal drugs, friends and neighbors began to wear red badges of satin.
Parents, sick of the destruction of alcohol and other drugs, began forming coalitions. Some of these new coalitions took Camarena as their model and embraced his belief that one person can make a difference. These coalitions also adopted the symbol of Camarena's memory, the red ribbon.
Today, the Red Ribbon serves as a catalyst to mobilize communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug abuse prevention activities.