Special Agent James “Terry” Watson, assigned to the DEA unit in Cartagena, was on temporary duty in Bogota.
Watson died after being stabbed in a taxi cab Thursday night after leaving a Bogota restaurant, a law enforcement official said.
Investigators believe Watson’s cab stopped at a traffic light and his assailants jumped out of two other cabs which pulled up on either side of the vehicle in which he was riding, the official said.
The official said taxi vehicle robberies are part of what are called “millionaire ride” thefts.
There’s no suggestion the suspected robbers knew they had set upon a DEA agent. According to the official, Watson managed to escape from the cab and was taken to a hospital, where he died.
Patrick Ventrell, a State Department spokesman, said earlier Thursday evening Watson watched the last game of the NBA finals at a restaurant with colleagues from the U.S. Embassy.
The United States is working in close cooperation with Colombian authorities to find those responsible, Ventrell said. “This is really a profound tragedy for our embassy community and indeed for our government.”
“These are the worst days for anyone in law enforcement and we grieve Terry’s loss,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart.
The DEA said Watson was a 13-year veteran of the agency. He had been sent to Afghanistan three times on counter-narcotics trafficking assignments and had previously served in the Army and worked for the U.S. Marshals Service.