A night in Bogotá which should have been a celebration for so many expatriates with the Miami Heat basketball team winning over San Antonio Spurs in a final NBA game turned tragically wrong for James “Terry” Watson, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Special Agent assigned to the DEA’s office in the port city of Cartagena, and who found himself on a temporary assignment in Bogotá this month.
James “Terry” Watson did what would seem like a responsible act in so many other capitals of the world: Hail a cab to take him back to his apartment, after watching the seventh game in a restaurant in Bogotá’s Parque 93. The 93 Park area is one of the city’s more affluent entertainment hubs, with its share of pubs and fancy restaurants.
The DEA agent was targeted when the taxi he got into left the Parque 93 and was intercepted by another taxi three blocks from the park. The assailants subsequently board the vehicle and on images released from a CCTV to RCN television, a person escapes from one of the cabs, apparently injured. Watson was stabbed in his chest and leg.
Known as the ‘paseo millionario’ – Millionaires Ride – these crimes involve thieves working in groups in order to hijack passengers when they step into a cab off the street, they then either drug the passenger with scopolamine in order to get passwords and bank cards, or worse still – as in the case of Watson – the hostage taken ends in death.
Married to a Colombian – Fadia Watson – “Terry” had only been in the country for about a year and a half. The U.S official was found after the attack on a street by a police patrol. His briefcase is still missing. A police patrol took Watson to the Clínica del Country, several blocks away, but he was pronounced dead on arrival. Watson was 43-years-old at the time of his death and a native of Richland Parish, Louisiana. According to the Monroe based News-Star, when Watson returned to Richland Parish on visits, “much of his time was spent with his grandmother and family matriarch Pauline Watson.”
Watson had served on dangerous counter-narcotics missions in Afghanistan earlier in his career. He graduated from the University of Louisiana at Monroe with a criminal justice degree. During college he worked for the Richland Parish Sheriff’s Office as a patrol officer and later as a narcotics investigator. DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart remarked that “Terry was a brave and talented DEA Special Agent who served our agency for 13 years,” she said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Terry’s wife and family.”
Reviewing security cameras in and around the Parque 93, the National Police released images of two cabs implicated in the crime. A reward of 50 million pesos (USD $25,800) has been offered for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.
The remains of James Watson returned today to the U.S after receiving honors at the Bogotá Antinarcotics airport terminal. U.S Ambassador Michael McKinley, and his wife Fátima McKinley, led the farewell committee. Among those in attendance, Jay Bergman, Regional director of the DEA, Colombian Major General Luis Alberto Pérez, head of the Antinarcotics division of the National Police and Admiral Roberto García Márquez.
Editor’s note. (June 25th, 2013): Colombian police arrested four men implicated in the murder of James Watson today. The arrests were made in Bogotá after the National Police infiltrated the criminal gang and purchased the seat of the taxicab where the U.S agent was allegedly stabbed, in order to have forensic evidence. The four men now face extradition to the U.S.