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History's Blotter

Click on the dates below for a look back in time at a moment in law enforcement history.

For a long time, if you entered any police or sheriff’s department in the country, you would be greeted at the front desk by a sergeant presiding over a large bound book. Everyone who came into the station, every call patrolmen answered—it was all documented in that book, called a blotter. The National Law Enforcement Museum has acquired blotters from all across the United States. They are an important part of our collection—teeming with information about day-to-day law enforcement activities and touching on national events as they affected specific agencies. Find below our version of a national blotter: History’s Blotter draws from events in many places and times to present the collective experience of law enforcement in America. Take a look at the entry featured this month (below), and scroll down to explore the History's Blotter archive.

February 7, 1985 | Enrique “Kiki” Camarena Kidnapped

Billboard along California Highway 111 (Photo by Brent Clingman/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

“The decision [by traffickers] to kill a U.S. federal agent changed everything.”

—James Kuykendall, retired DEA agent

Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was walking down a busy street in Guadalajara, Mexico, headed to lunch with his wife, when he was kidnapped by armed gunmen. His kidnapping sparked a massive manhunt that drew international attention to Mexican drug cartels and practically shutdown the US-Mexico border.

Camarena was a 37-year-old Mexican-born American, US Marine Corps veteran, and had served with the DEA for 11 years. He was married with three young children. James Kuykendall, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Guadalajara field office later described Camarena’s responsibilities,

"He was not involved in deep undercover work as I would define it. The undercover work which was done was mostly to find out who was doing what, what sort of drugs they were dealing in, what quantities... The other agents in the office were doing the same thing, but Kiki was just a little better at it. A little more motivated."

The manhunt for Camarena was to no avail. Thirty days after he was taken, his body, along with pilot Alfredo Zavala Avelar whom he worked with, was found on the side of the road in the Mexican State of Michoacan. His decomposing body showed signs of brutal torture. Evidence suggested that Camarena lived for about two days after his kidnapping and that his torturers used amphetamines to keep him awake.

The search for Camarena’s killers became a massive homicide investigation titled "Operation Leyenda." The operation found that the Guadalajara Drug Cartel ordered Camarena’s murder. This inspired a multi-year campaign by the DEA to bring down the heads of the cartel. Ernesto "Don Neto" Fonseca was convicted of Camarena’s murder in 1985, and released on home arrest in 2016 due to poor health; Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo was sentenced to 40 years in prison and is still serving his time in Guadalajara; and Rafael Caro Quintero was also sentenced to 40 years, but was released in 2013. He is currently in hiding and listed on Interpol’s 15 Most Wanted Fugitives.

History's Blotter Archive

1611
First Lawman in the Colonies? | May 1611

1775
New-Gate Prison | December 11, 1775

1788
Ben Franklin on How to Improve the Nightwatch | August 1788

1819
Night Watchmen | January 1819

1841
Mary Cecilia Rogers, The Beautiful Cigar Girl | July 25, 1841

1844
Cherokee Light-Horse | November 13, 1844

1844
Eliza Farnham, head matron at Sing Sing | March 18, 1844

1852
Irish Police in Boston | January 5, 1852

1858
Boston Police Get New Uniforms | November 1, 1858

1865
Abraham Lincoln Authorized U.S. Secret Service | July 5, 1865

1871
National Police Convention | October 21, 1871

1872
Tragedy at Going Snake | April 15, 1872

1874
Apache Tribal Police | September 1874

1875
Ranger Daniel Webster Roberts' Colt Revolver | September 13, 1875

1877
US Marshal Frederick Douglass | March 17, 1877

1880
Revenuers and Moonshiners | April 30, 1880

1884
Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves | February 8, 1884

1886
Haymarket Riot | May 4, 1886

1892
Borden Murders, Fall River, Massachusetts | August 4, 1892

1898
Marie Connolly Owens | March 14, 1898

1908
The Dog Squad | January 19, 1908

1908
Pat Garrett Assassinated | February 29, 1908

1909
Police Autos | June 1909

1911
US Marshals in Alaska Territory | January 14, 1911

1915
The Black Hand | April 15, 1915

1915
Aletha Gilbert, City Mother, LAPD | May 26, 1915

1919
Boston Police Strike | September 9, 1919

1920
Wall Street Bombing | September 16, 1920

1923
Izzy and Moe call on Governor Al Smith | January 18, 1923

1926
Eliot Ness | August 26, 1926

1931
Calling Dick Tracy! | October 4, 1931

1934
Deputy Ted Hinton | May 23, 1934

1941
Agent Robert L. Shivers | December 7, 1941

1942
Saboteur Trial | June 13, 1942

1950
Truman Assassination Thwarted | November 1, 1950

1956
The Mad Bomber | December 2, 1956

1957
Dragnet and Police Procedurals | July 26, 1957

1957
Apalachin Mafia Summit | November 14, 1957

1958
Morris Childs | October 22-23, 1958

1963
Medgar Evers | June 12, 1963

1966
Texas Tower Shooting | August 1, 1966

1968
First 911 Call | February 16, 1968

1971
Phone Phreaking | October 1971

1980
ABSCAM FBI Sting | February 3, 1980

1981
FBI Agent Joe Pistone aka Donnie Brasco | July 26, 1981

1985
Enrique “Kiki” Camarena Kidnapped | February 7, 1985

1986
FBI Miami Shootout | April 11, 1986

1989
US Invades Panama | December 20, 1989

1990
Missing Masterpieces | March 18, 1990

2011
Whitey Bulger Captured | June 22, 2011