202-905-8885 deasbf@deasbf.org
DEA Survivors Benefit Fund

Special Agent in Charge Richard Heath, Jr., of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, died on April 1, 1973 in Quito, Ecuador, from complications resulting from a gunshot wound he received during an undercover operation in Aruba, Netherlands Antilles on February 22, 1973. He was 36 years of age at the time of his death. During the undercover buy, a drug trafficker and his armed bodyguard tried to rob Special Agent Heath. He shot the trafficker but was wounded in his thigh by the bodyguard. Tragically, medical personnel at the Aruban hospital mistook him for one of the traffickers and did not provide the proper medical attention Special Agent Heath required. Special Agent Heath began his drug enforcement career in 1966 with the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in Houston, Texas. In 1968, Special Agent Heath transferred to San Diego and in 1972 was assigned to Ecuador. Most of Special Agent Heath’s career was spent working undercover drug operations. After his death, Special Agent Heath was survived by his wife, Virginia; a son, Richard III; a daughter Suzanne; and his brother, DEA Special Agent in Charge Edward A. Heath, Retired.

The Survivors Benefit Fund is not part of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) or Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) but, instead, is a private 501(c)(3) organization that supports the families of DEA agents, employees, and task force officers who gave their lives in the line-of-duty. Neither the DOJ nor DEA approves, endorses, or authorizes the Survivors Benefit Fund, its materials, or its fundraising efforts.