Pubdate: Wed, 28 Oct 2009
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2009 El Paso Times
Author: Chris Roberts, Staff Writer


EL PASO - A Drug Enforcement Administration agent killed when his
helicopter crashed in Afghanistan also risked his life fighting drug
dealers in El Paso.

Special Agent Forrest N. Leamon, 37, and two other agents died Monday
when a CH-47 Chinook went down in the western part of the country,
said a DEA official in Washington, D.C. The military is investigating
the cause of the crash. Weather was thought to be a factor.

"He was a hardworking, committed DEA agent who volunteered for the
assignment" in Afghanistan, said Joe Arabit, special agent in charge
of the DEA's El Paso operation. "He put his life on the line to make
this country a better, safer place for all of us."

Leamon began his DEA service in El Paso in 2002. He remained here
until 2007, when he joined a unit that accepted foreign deployments.
In Afghanistan, that DEA team works with the U.S. military, Arabit

"He was involved in counter-narcotic operations that resulted in the
identification and ultimate seizure and destruction of heroin labs."

Leamon had several friends in the El Paso office, Arabit said. "This
is a tremendous loss. His friends here are taking it very hard."

One of those people is Special Agent Diana Apodaca.

"He was always there when you needed help on a case," Apodaca said.
"It didn't matter whether he was the case agent who would get the
ultimate credit."

Leamon's duties in El Paso were diverse, including undercover
operations, surveillance and making arrests, Arabit said. As part of a
DEA Mobile Enforcement Team, Leamon was a lead investigator on cases
in New Mexico and most of West Texas. Targets included gangs selling
crack, heroin and other drugs.

Leamon was born in Ukiah, Calif. He served nine years in the Navy
before joining the DEA. He is survived by his pregnant wife, who lives
in Woodbridge, Va.; his mother and father; and a sister.

Also killed in the crash were Special Agents Chad L. Michael, 30, of
Quantico, Va., and Michael E. Weston, 37, of Washington, D.C.
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