Special Agent Don Cleo Ware

Special Agent Don Cleo Ware

United States Department of Justice - Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Government

End of Watch Tuesday, October 12, 2004

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Don Cleo Ware

Special Agent Don Ware died in 2004 from complications of gunshot wounds suffered in Mexico on June 9, 1975.

He and another agent were working an undercover operation in San Luis, Mexico when they were kidnapped and beaten by several suspects.

The assailants had taken the agents' guns, but did not find one of the guns that Agent Ware was carrying. Agent Ware was able to access his concealed weapon, allowing the two agents to escape. The suspects opened fire with M-16 rifles, during which time Agent Ware was shot twice.

The main suspect was arrested sometime after the incident and served time for shooting a Mexican federal agent, but no one was ever charged in connection with shooting Agent Ware or the other agent.

Agent Ware suffered critical injuries and remained in intensive care for four months, during which time he underwent multiple blood transfusions. He contracted hepatitis during one of the transfusions. He also lost a kidney, 60% of his liver, his gallbladder and part of his intestines.

Special Agent Ware went back to his position at the DEA a year later. As a result of contracting hepatitis, later in his life he suffered cirrhosis of the liver. By undergoing Interferon therapy he was able to rid his body of hepatitis, but significant damage remained. Because of the gunshot injuries he underwent many surgeries over the years before medically retiring in 1997. The last of these surgeries resulted in his death October 12, 2004.

Agent Ware served with the DEA for 25 years. He was preceded in death by his third daughter, and survived by his wife and three daughters.


  • Age 64
  • Tour 25 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Location Overseas
  • Incident Date Monday, June 9, 1975
  • Weapon Rifle; M-16
  • Offender Never apprehended

Most Recent Reflection

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SA Ware:
Your story is one of inspiration and uncommon valor. Just surviving the original kidnapping and severe wounds are amazing. Going back to work despite the painful operations and lingering side effects is even more indicative of an iron man. I've known many DEA Agents in my career and they were all good, dedicated and exceptional people. I had to the opportunity to attend the DEA Drug Commander's school in Quantico. You obviously were an exceptional agent, cut from the same mold of those who came before you. Thanks for your sacrifice and brave/honorable service to this great nation.

Jim Lopey, Asst. Sheriff (ret)
Washoe County Sheriff (Reno, Nevada) & NVDPS (current)

October 12, 2021

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