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DEA agent, former Hawaii resident, killed in Colombia

By Jim Wyss

The Miami Herald (MCT)

LAST UPDATED: 05:37 a.m. HST, Jun 22, 2013

BOGOTA, Colombia » A U.S. drug enforcement agent, formerly stationed in Hawaii, was stabbed to death Thursday night in what authorities said may have been an attempted robbery.

James “Terry” Watson was heading home after watching the NBA finals in an upscale neighborhood of northern Bogota when men tried to rob him inside a taxi, police said. Authorities said they thought Watson might have tried to fight back and was stabbed in the melee. He died at the Clinica del Country hospital, local news said.

The DEA said Watson was assigned to the coastal city of Cartagena but was on temporary duty in Bogota.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos ordered the ministry of defense and the police to pull out the stops to find the killers.

“Events like the one that happened last night, where a DEA agent was assassinated in a taxi, erase - in a single sweep - all the work we’ve done to reduce homicides,” Santos said.

The country is also offering a 50 million peso bounty, or about $25,000, for killers.

In addition to serving in Colombia, Watson has served in Honolulu, Hawaii, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, and was deployed on three occasions to Afghanistan. Prior to his DEA service, he worked for the U.S. Marshals Service and served in the United States Army, the DEA said.

“We are all saddened by this devastating loss of a member of the DEA family,” DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said in a statement. “Terry was a brave and talented DEA Special Agent who served our agency for 13 years. These are the worst days for anyone in law enforcement and we grieve Terry’s loss.”

Gen. Jose Roberto Leon, director of Colombia's National Police, said Watson was 43. He had worked in the country for about a year and a half.

Col. Camilo Cabana of the National Police said that the taxi Watson was riding in was intercepted by another cab about three blocks from the restaurant. Two men got out and tried to pull the American out of the vehicle, stabbing him three times in the chest and once in the leg, Cabana said.

The assailants abandoned the agent in the street, where he was found shortly afterward by a police patrol. Watson was taken to a clinic several blocks away, but had already died.

Police were reviewing area security cameras in hopes of identifying the assailants.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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allie wrote:
Very dangerous country. RIP
on June 21,2013 | 11:24AM
noheawilli wrote:
That is sad, and yet another reminder that the drug war needs to end, it simply cannot and never will be won.
on June 21,2013 | 11:26AM
Oahuan2 wrote:
The war against drugs could be won if Americans were willing to give up their drug habits. Not likely. We could make the drugs legal and take away cartel profits. Hey, we tax alcohol and cigarettes, why not marijuana, cocaine, etc.
on June 21,2013 | 12:44PM
Kapakahi wrote:
Your idea would make sense IF government drug policy were based upon trying to minimize harm and save money. But under our system, draconian drug laws provide the police, prosecutors and DEA extraordinary power and, funding. As well as super-profits to drug dealers, smugglers and the corrupt officials who help the drugs enter the country. The prison industry has mushroomed as a result of the war on drugs. Now that the prisons are largely privatized, the high profits there also work against legalizing and regulating drugs.
on June 21,2013 | 02:30PM
sailfish1 wrote:
The U.S. has too many weaklings that need illegal drugs to make them feel good. Because of them, the country is wasting multi-billions of dollars that could be used to better the country and many good people are dying.
on June 21,2013 | 09:11PM
scooters wrote:
RIP Brother...
on June 21,2013 | 12:51PM
residenttaxpayer wrote:
Wasn't agent Watson armed with his service weapon?.....
on June 21,2013 | 01:44PM
Tarakian wrote:
My thoughts too, Why was he not armed? He was on duty. At least, he should of carried pocket knives. Heck, in a known dangerous country, several pocket knives, pepper spray, etc.
on June 21,2013 | 03:34PM
HD36 wrote:
Columbia, the cocain production center of the world. Where the people walk around chewing coca leaves for energy. How is the DEA supposed to stop an entire country from growing and manufacturing cocaine, something they've been doing for hundreds of years?
on June 21,2013 | 09:39PM
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