SANTA ANA ( — Children at an Orange County elementary school joined students nationwide pledging to stay drug-free as Red Ribbon Week kicked off Monday.

More than a thousand Santa Ana schoolchildren at Santiago Elementary School attended an assembly featuring special guests from the Drug Enforcement Agency and family members of slain DEA agent Enrique Camarena, whose death in 1985 was the impetus for the drug prevention initiative.

“I was told that Red Ribbon Week was developed to continue the fight against drugs because of what my cousin had died for and what he believed in,” said Camarena’s cousin, Aida Valdez.

Camarena was working as an undercover DEA agent in Mexico when he was murdered.

Red ribbons and anti-drug posters are everywhere at Santiago Elementary. Many students dressed in shades of red and wore bright patterned socks, in keeping with the school’s “Sock it to Drugs” theme.

One student told KCAL9’s Michele Gile that Red Ribbon Week encouraged him not to use drugs “because it can hurt you in your mind and your body and I don’t want that to happen to me.”

Students also recited a pledge to help others and keep themselves drug-free by saying no.


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