Take out your list of movies to watch and place The Last Narc at the top of your list. It’s now showing on Amazon Prime. Consisting of four one-hour segments, it will be the most fascinating drug-war documentary you will ever watch. And revealing as well!
In fact, better yet, first watch Seasons 1 and 2 of Narcos: Mexico on Netflix. That will get you better set for watching The Last Narc. But if you just want to watch The Last Narc only, that is sufficient.
All three series tell the story of Kiki Camarena, a 37-year-old DEA agent assigned to work in Mexico during the 1980s. In 1985, Camarena was kidnapped, brutally tortured, and then executed.
The Netflix series details the background of the case and how this horrendous crime unfolded. The Amazon Prime series provides the real backstory of what happened to Camarena and why.
On the face of it, it would appear that Camarena was kidnapped, tortured, and killed because he was responsible for discovering and destroying a massive marijuana plantation in Mexico that cost the drug cartel billions of dollars.
In 1985, I was practicing law in Texas. Since I had represented some people involved in drug prosecutions in federal court in my hometown of Laredo, I was thunderstruck when I heard about the Camarena case. I had come to know several of the DEA agents in Laredo. They were mostly guys in their early 30s who had joined the DEA with the “patriotic” aim of “winning” the war on drugs. That’s the way that Camarena comes across in all three of these series.
The Camarena murder never made any sense to me. Everyone knows that when you kill a cop or a judge, the entire wrath of the state is going to come crashing down on you. And if the cop or the judge happen to be U.S. federal agents or a federal judge, you’re going to have the full force of the U.S. government being brought to bear on you.
So, why would drug dealers go after and kill Camarena, a fairly low-level drug agent? Moreover, if it’s vengeance for costing the cartel lots of money, why not simply assassinate him? Why kidnap and torture him also? Anyone can figure out that that sort of thing is just going to get the U.S. government even more determined to come after you.
And sure enough, that’s what happened. The U.S. government pulled out all the stops to find out who did the kidnapping, torture, and killing of Kiki Camarena, putting unbelievable amount of pressure on the Mexican government to find the people responsible and extradite them to the United States. To get the message across loud and clear, President Ronald Reagan even completely shut down the U.S.-Mexico border, causing an unbelievable backlog of traffic on the Mexican side of the border.
Moreover, the DEA even went so far as to orchestrate the kidnapping in Mexico of a Mexican doctor who was alleged to have assisted with Camarena’s torture. They then forcibly brought him to the United States to stand trial in federal district court.
The DEA assigned the case to a special agent named Hector Berrellez, a highly decorated DEA special agent who plays the central role in The Last Narc. Berrellez was heroic and ended up solving the case. He discovered why there were people who deemed it necessary to kidnap and torture Camarena rather than simply kill him. But after Berrellez figured out what was really going on, he was taken off the case. Watch The Last Narc to see why. In the process, you’ll see why the drug war is so utterly corrupt and why there are people who have a vested interest in seeing that it continues.