U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration awards national honor to Fox Valley Young Marines

  • Volunteers with the Fox Valley Young Marines work on an Adopt-A-Highway cleanup.

    Volunteers with the Fox Valley Young Marines work on an Adopt-A-Highway cleanup. Courtesy of Young Marines

Updated 6/1/2023 12:37 AM

The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Young Marines, a national youth organization, named the Young Marines unit winners of the Enrique "Kiki" Camarena Award.

The award honors six units, one award per division, for drug demand reduction efforts through community education and peer-to-peer role modeling.


The official announcement was recently announced at the Young Marines Awards Banquet in Dale City, Virginia.

The winners are: for Division 1, Gettysburg Young Marines, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; Division 2, Southern Maryland Young Marines, Lexington, Maryland; Division 3, Atlantic Coast Young Marines, Jacksonville, Florida; Division 4, Mountain View Young Marines, Mountain View, Colorado; Division 5, Fox Valley Young Marines, Elgin, Illinois; Division 6, Miramar Young Marines, Miramar (San Diego), California.

The overall winner of the national award is the Mountain View Young Marines.

The award is named in memory of DEA Special Agent and U.S. Marine Enrique "Kiki" Camarena. He dedicated his career to defeating the drug invasion in the U.S. In 1974, he became a special agent with the DEA. He worked in Mexico, and he had come dangerously close to exposing the top leaders of a multibillion-dollar drug pipeline. He was abducted and brutally murdered in 1985 at the age of 37.

"DEA is proud to honor the memory of Special Agent Camarena by recognizing the prevention efforts of these exemplary young people," said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. "It is gratifying to see the thought, creativity, and hard work these Young Marines dedicate to this important program. As tomorrow's leaders, these students are poised to have a lasting impact on making our communities safer and healthier."

Young Marine units are judged on drug demand reduction (DDR) hours, curriculum, and the steps taken in reaching out to the community to include peers and others. Units can enter pictures, endorsements, proclamations, videos, and other items that help demonstrate their drug demand reduction efforts. The best three entries per division are sent to the Drug Enforcement Administration's headquarters, and a winner from each division is selected.

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One of the pillars of the Young Marines program is to lead positive, drug-free lifestyles, and to educate and encourage others to do the same. Young Marines units are mandated to teach the standardized Project Alert curriculum.

The Project Alert curriculum focuses on the Gateway Drugs, but also stays current with drugs that affect our youth. It also gives senior Young Marines the opportunity to become certified instructors and teach their younger Young Marines and peers.

"In light of the increasing number of fentanyl deaths, we consider this year's awards more important than ever. We are proud of our relationship with the DEA, and we congratulate the six outstanding units who won this prestigious award," said retired U.S. Marine Corps Col. William P. Davis, national executive director and CEO of the Young Marines. "Each year the submissions become more creative and more effective with units taking initiative to get out of the classrooms and out into their communities with the DDR message."

Since the Young Marines' humble beginnings in 1959 with one unit and a handful of boys, the organization has grown to over 238 units with 6,100 youth and 2,100 adult volunteers in 40 states, the District of Columbia, Japan (Okinawa), and affiliates in a host of other countries.

For more information, visit the website at www.YoungMarines.org.

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