A mother, whose daughter was kidnapped and murdered, spent years stalking and hunting down all of her child’s captors, one by one. The mom’s hunt mirrored the 2008 film “Taken” as she went to any lengths to ensure justice for her beloved daughter.
Miriam Elizabeth Rodriguez Martinez of San Fernando, Tamaulipas, became one of Mexico’s most fearless activists for missing children after the disappearance of her daughter, Karen Alejandra Salinas Rodriguez. Karen, 20, was abducted in the northeastern Mexican city after a group of armed men from the Los Zetas Cartel forced their way into her car and took off with her inside.
Some may say Mariam is a vigilante. However, she had no choice but to take matters into her own hands. Mexico is notorious for corruption in law enforcement especially when it comes to the drug cartels. The determined mother knew it was up to her if she was going to see justice. After ransom demands, which were paid, Karen was murdered, and her remains were found on an abandoned ranch.
“Using various disguises, a fake handgun, a real pistol, and false identification, the mother managed to locate and interrogate several members of the Los Zetas cartel, one of the most dangerous and violent in the country,” Daily Mail reported. According to the New York Times, “In three years, Mrs. Rodríguez captured nearly every living member of the crew that had abducted her daughter for ransom, a rogues’ gallery of criminals who tried to start new lives — as a born-again Christian, a taxi driver, a car salesman, a babysitter.”
One harrowing experience involved a man identified as “the florist,” one of the captors whom Miriam located thanks to a tipster. By then, all of the kidnappers knew of the mom’s mission, so she had to disguise herself. Armed with a gun and wearing a trench coat and a baseball hat to cover her fire engine red hair, she raced to the US-Mexico border where the “florist” was now selling sunglasses.
On the US-Mexico border bridge, the man recognized Miriam and ran, but the 56-year-old managed to catch up to him and tackle him. “If you move, I’ll shoot you,” she told him while holding up a gun. The vigilante mom detained him for nearly an hour until authorities arrived to arrest him, according to the Times. “In all, she was instrumental in taking down 10 [criminals], a mad campaign for justice that made her famous, but vulnerable. No one challenged organized crime, never mind put its members in prison.”
Miriam’s son, Luis, was in the right place at the right time when he recognized “Sama,” one of the kidnappers on his mom’s list. Luis owned a shop in Cuidad Victoria, and Sama had wandered into his store. It was as if God had intervened. Luis called the police and the man was arrested, coughing up the horrendous details of Karen’s murder.
Unfortunately, Miriam’s crusade caused her to be on the cartel’s hit list. According to reports, weeks after she had chased down one of her last targets, she was shot in front of her home and killed. It was Mother’s Day. Her husband, inside watching television, found her face down on the street, hand tucked inside her purse, next to her pistol. She died on the way to the hospital.
“She was a brave person, who worried about others and had the courage of her convictions in her struggle,” said Giovanni Barrios Moreno, whose own son disappeared. Before her death, Miriam Elizabeth Rodriguez Martinez had asked the government for armed guards, fearing the consequences of her actions after prisoners escaped jail in Ciudad Victoria. It all fell on deaf ears. Her son Luis is ensuring his mother’s legacy by taking over the group she had started, a collective of the many local families whose loved ones had disappeared. Miriam’s hometown of San Fernando placed a bronze plaque honoring her in the central plaza.