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DEA agent, former Hawaii resident, killed in Colombia

By Jim Wyss

The Miami Herald (MCT)

LAST UPDATED: 5:37 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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