Miriam Martinez is known as a hero figure in her city where organized crime rules the roost.
A heroic mother spent years tracking down drug cartel members who kidnapped her daughter and even brought nearly a dozen of them to justice. According to New York Times, Miriam Elizabeth Rodriguez Martinez of San Fernand, Tamaulipas, was one of Mexico's most daring activists for missing children after her daughter, Karen Alejandra Salinas Rodriguez, was abducted by the Los Zeta Cartel in 2012. In her pursuit to find her daughter and later, avenge her, Martinez took down at least 10 criminals, considered hard work even for law enforcement. Unfortunately for her, there was no happy ending, as she was murdered outside her home in 2017.
I’ve lived 5 years in Mexico, long enough to know how little I know. But the story of Miriam Rodriguez, who hunted down the criminal group that killed her daughter, is to me a parable of what is wrong in México - and remarkable about its people. https://t.co/RdPFozAMzp— Azam Ahmed (@azamsahmed) December 13, 2020
Back on January 23, 2012, in a northeastern Mexican city, Karen, 20, was abducted by members of the cartel after they forced themselves into her car and took off with her inside. The criminals even demanded thousands of dollars as ransom in exchange for her safe return. Despite the family complying with their demands, Karen was murdered while her remains were found at a ranch in 2014. Frustrated by the lack of action from the police, Martinez took the matter into her own hands and went to incredible lengths to pursue her daughter's killers across Mexico. Armed with disguises, false identification, and a handgun, the woman managed to pinpoint and interrogate members of the Los Zeta cartel, known for being one of the most violent and dangerous groups in the country.
“They’re going to kill me one day. Of that I have no doubt.” Miriam Elizabeth Rodríguez Martínez uttered those... https://t.co/vQkMYHutsq— NORM LONG (@motelonfire) May 13, 2017
One of her first targets was a young florist whom she was chasing for a year, tracking him down online, and followed his whereabouts after discovering that he sold flowers on the street before foraying into the cartel. Upon receiving a tip on his whereabouts, Martinez located the man among several vendors near the Mexico-US border selling sunglasses. As the man recognized her and began running, the 56-year-old gave chase and went on to catch up to him and tackle him. "If you move, I'll shoot you," she reportedly told him while holding up the gun. She detained him for nearly an hour until authorities arrived to arrest him. Her pursuit also led to the arrest of various men working for the cartel, including Cristian Jose Zapata Gonzalez, who was 18 at the time and involved in the cartel.
A remarkable and haunting story: In three years, Miriam Rodríguez captured nearly every living member of the crew that had abducted and killed her daughter. In all, she turned in 10 people. On Mother’s Day, 2017, she was fatally shot outside her home. https://t.co/yzQHkWpx2L— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) December 14, 2020
During one of her investigative runs, she came across one of the men who said the cartel did not have her daughter but said he would help her find the daughter for $2,000. While begging for Karen's release, she heard the name Sama being called out on the radio. Armed with the lead she hunted social media for hours to find any traces of a person with the name and eventually found a tagged photo of him posing next to a woman in an ice cream shop uniform in Ciudad Victoria, a two-hour drive away from where she was. She headed to the store and hung around there for weeks, waiting for Sama to show up to meet the woman. When he finally arrived, she followed the couple to their address and made note of it.
Since 2014, Miriam Rodríguez had been tracking those responsible for her daughter’s murder.— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) December 13, 2020
She disguised herself as a pollster, health worker & election official to get their names, addresses.
In 3 years, she captured nearly every living person involved https://t.co/7kZEcx7i4p
Afraid of being spotted, Martinez dyed her hair red and put on a uniform from her job at the Health Ministry, which she used to conduct fake polls of the neighborhood to gather more details of her new target. Martinez even found a police officer to help her arrest him but before they could get a warrant, Sama had skipped town. In September 2014, her son Luis, a shop owner in Ciudad Victoria, spotted Sama at his store looking for hats. Police were called and he was soon arrested, and details regarding Karen's murder were extracted out of him including the names and locations of all involved. Her heroic pursuits came to an abrupt end, however, on Mother's Day of 2017 when she was shot 12 times outside her home, her husband finding her body on the street, with her hand reaching for her pistol inside the purse.
"In three years, Mrs. Rodríguez captured nearly every living member of the crew that had abducted her daughter for ransom." –– Incredible read on an extraordinary woman, which asks whether revenge/justice is worth it. https://t.co/1lpckrQGNj— Jane Bradley (@jane__bradley) December 13, 2020
Years on from the incident, she is hailed as a hero figure in her city even though crime often goes unchecked where she's from. Martinez wasn't just a vigilante hunter though, she also formed an NGO of 600 families who all worked together to find their missing children. After her death, her son Luis has taken over at the helm, continuing his brave mom's legacy.