Camarena was assigned to Mexico where he was kidnapped, tortured and eventually murdered in 1985.
His death enraged many Americans in his hometown of Calexico, California, so they began to wear red ribbons to commemorate his sacrifice on the war on drugs.
Red Ribbon Week was established by the National Family Partnership (NFP) in 1988, making it the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the country. The week highlights the issue of substance abuse and brings awareness to prevention activities nationwide. The focus is to educate individuals, families, and communities on the destructive effects of drugs, and the positive life choices that are available.
Red Ribbon Week serves as a vehicle for communities and individuals to take a stand and commit to drug prevention and education. The Department of Defense (DoD) joined in the national effort in 1990 by commencing an award program to encourage the service members to keep communities drug free, and to recognize outstanding outreach programs.
The theme of this year's Red Ribbon Week is "Your Future Is Key, So Stay Drug Free." The United States Army honors Red Ribbon Week to raise awareness, and combat tobacco, alcohol, and drug use.
The DoD established Drug Demand Reduction Program guidance for the Services and the DoD Agencies to detect, and deter them from using illegal drugs, and misusing prescription drugs.