“Mom kills off one by one 10 members of the gang that killed her daughter.”

In a heart-wrenching tale of unwavering determination and immense courage, Miriam Elizabeth Rodríguez Martínez, a mother from San Fernando, Tamaulipas, Mexico, took on the ruthless Zetas cartel after her daughter, Karen Alejandra Salinas Rodríguez, was kidnapped and murdered in 2012. Her quest for justice, reminiscent of the plot of the movie “Taken,” ultimately cost her life but left an indelible mark on her community.

Karen, a young woman just 20 years old, fell victim to a horrific kidnapping in 2012 at the hands of armed members of the Los Zetas cartel. Despite desperate attempts by her family to meet the kidnappers’ ransom demands, Karen met a tragic fate: she was brutally murdered, and her remains were discovered in 2014.After the kidnapping and heart-wrenching death of her daughter, Miriam embarked on an extraordinary and dangerous journey, determined to hold her daughter’s killers accountable. With incredible perseverance, she resorted to extraordinary measures, using disguises, fake identities, and even a mock gun to infiltrate the ranks of the Los Zetas cartel, one of the most ruthless criminal organizations in the world, in Mexico.


Among their targets was a former florist who had become a member of the cartel. After obtaining information about his whereabouts, Miriam confronted him near the Mexico-US border. Displaying exceptional courage, she held him at gunpoint until authorities arrived to arrest him. Miriam’s bravery in this act led to the capture of at least ten criminals, including Christian José Zapata González, who was just 18 years old at the time.Miriam’s relentless pursuit of justice led her to a chilling encounter with a cartel member who offered to help her find her daughter for a certain fee. He revealed the alias of this participant as “Sama” and meticulously tracked him to an ice cream café in Ciudad Victoria, a two-hour drive away. Their surveillance tactics included disguises, fabricated surveys, and collaboration with the police.

It was only in September 2014 that “Sama” was finally arrested thanks to surveillance by Miriam’s son, who noticed him in his store in Ciudad Victoria. Under pressure, “Sama” disclosed crucial information about Karen’s murder, which subsequently led to the identification and capture of other operatives.However, Miriam’s unwavering determination came at a high cost. On Mother’s Day 2017, she was tragically shot 12 times outside her home and died. Despite such a heart-wrenching outcome, Miriam’s courageous actions made her a local hero in a city where organized crime often operates with impunity.

Her remarkable story is a testament to the boundless strength of a mother’s love and unwavering determination. In a region where authorities often turn a blind eye to the scourge of organized crime, Miriam’s relentless pursuit of justice, akin to the fictional character Liam Neeson in the movie “Taken,” continues to inspire those who encounter her story.

Miriam’s legacy lives on through a non-governmental organization led by her surviving son, Luis, which unites 600 families. These families persistently continue their tireless efforts to search for their missing loved ones, carrying on Miriam’s legacy of bravery and the fight for justice.In a country where justice often seems elusive, Miriam’s story serves as a poignant reminder that the pursuit of justice is a sacred duty worth fulfilling despite the associated risks. Her indomitable spirit and unwavering commitment continue to inspire us all.

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