More than 2,000 federal, state and local law enforcement officers gathered at St. Patrick's Cathedral here today to pay their final respects to Enrique Camarena Salazar, the federal drug agent who was kidnaped and murdered last month by Mexican narcotics traffickers.
Traditional rivalries among police agencies were forgotten, for the day at least, as agents and officers gathered from such agencies as the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the U.S. Customs Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Secret Service, the New York and New Jersey state police, the New York City Police Department and even the Baltimore County Police.
As bagpipers played "Amazing Grace," police in traditional blue uniforms mixed with undercover agents -- many of them wearing trenchcoats, dark glasses, long hair and beards -- against the backdrop of the magnificent Gothic cathedral in midtown Manhattan.
"There's never been anything like this before where all the different stood up together for a dead agent," said one. "But we've never had anything like this before -- where a federal agent was kidnaped and murdered because of the work he was doing."
Camarena, a veteran DEA agent, was abducted Feb. 7 on a busy street just outside the U.S. consulate in Guadalajara, Mexico. His body was found March 6 on a farm about 70 miles from Guadalajara. He had been tortured.
After DEA officials charged that Mexican authorities had obstructed the investigation, several local police officers were charged in connection with the Camarena case. But none of the major drug traffickers named as suspects in the case have been apprehended.
The Rev. Terence Attridge, head of the Substance Abuse Ministry of the New York Archdiocese, celebrated the memorial mass, saying, "We come here . . . [with] determination that terrorism tactics will not sway us from our responsibilities. So many human lives are being affected tragically by this plague."