10 Historically Pivotal Murders

Enrique Camarena
The body of DEA officer Enrique Camarena leaves Guadalajara, Mexico, en route to California, for his funeral. Kypros/Getty Images

During the early 1980s, Enrique "Kiki" Camarena was working for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and he was hot on the trail of Rafael Caro Quintero and Miguel Gallardo, two of the biggest names in drug trafficking. Allied with Columbian cocaine producers, Caro Quintero organized most of the drug flow through Mexico, as well as the yearly production of millions of dollars' worth of marijuana [source: Beith]. However, by early 1985, Camarena had become too much of a threat. Abducted on Feb. 7, 1985, Camarena was tortured on Gallardo's ranch for two days before his death. Many of the bones in his head had been broken, his windpipe was crushed, and a screwdriver had punctured his skull. The autopsy also showed that he had been given drugs to keep him conscious throughout his ordeal [source: Seper].

Caro Quintero was caught in 1985 for his role in orchestrating the killing, and Gallardo in 1989. Their arrests sent a shock wave through the Mexican underworld that shattered the once stable cartels. Where before there had been a form of stability among only a few cartels that controlled distribution and production, the following decades devolved into an all-out war as smaller and younger cartels vied for power. Fighting has become steadily bloodier in recent years, and it is estimated that more than 60,000 people were killed between 2006 and 2012 [source: Human Rights Watch].