A recent story from the New York Times has detailed the gumshoe work of a one-woman investigation league. Over several years, Miriam Rodríguez, a fearless mother from San Fernando, Tamaulipas used disguises, handguns, and fake IDS to track down the names and locations of the people who kidnapped her daughter Karen Alejandra Salinas Rodriguez in 2012. 

In 2012, Miriam’s 20- year-old daughter Karen Alejandra Salinas Rodríguez disappeared.

On Jan. 23, Karen had been working alongside her mother at their family business in San Fernando, an area forced to endure growing pressures related to gang violence and kidnappings. On that fateful day in January, Karen had been preparing to merge into traffic when two trucks pulled up on either side of her car and stopped her. Armed men broke into her pickup truck and drove off with her in it.

Weeks after Karen’s abduction Miriam’s family took out a loan from a bank and followed the kidnappers’ every instruction. For months, Karens’ kidnappers strung her family along, demanding thousands of dollars and promising their daughter’s return.

According to the New York Times, “One morning, a few weeks after the last payment, she came downstairs and told [her daughter] Azalea that she knew Karen was never coming back, that she was most likely dead. She said it matter-of-factly, as though describing her sleep… She told her daughter that she would not rest until she found the people who had taken Karen. She would hunt them down, one by one, until the day she died. Azalea watched as her mother’s sadness hardened into resolve and her hope gave way to revenge.”

According to The New York Times, since 2014 Miriam worked vigorously to track down the people responsible for kidnapping and murdering her 20-year-old daughter, karen alejandra salinas rodríguez.

“She cut her hair, dyed it and disguised herself as a pollster, a health worker and an election official to get their names and addresses,” writes NYT. “She invented excuses to meet their families, unsuspecting grandmothers and cousins who gave her details, however small. She wrote everything down and stuffed it into her black computer bag, building her investigation and tracking them down, one by one.”

In a matter of three years, Miriam had managed to hunt down and capture every living member of the crew that had abducted her daughter as part of a ransom scheme. Those who she managed to track down were sent to prison, not because of authorities, but because of her own pursuits.

In total Miriam tracked down 10 people in her campaign for justice for her daughter.

According to NYT her daughter’s assailants had attempted to escape their crimes over the years by starting anew. One became a born-again Christian, another a taxi driver, one became a car salesman, and one even a babysitter. Her efforts “made her famous, but vulnerable. No one challenged organized crime, never mind put its members in prison,” NYT reports. “In all, Miriam was instrumental in taking down 10 people, in a mad campaign for justice that made her famous, but vulnerable. No one challenged organized crime, never mind put its members in prison. She asked the government for armed guards, fearing the cartel had finally had enough.”

Sadly, Miriam’s efforts eventually caught up with her on Mother’s Day, 2017, when weeks after she had chased down one of her last targets, she was shot and murdered in front of her own home.

Miriam’s husband found her face down on the street. Still, to this day and to so many in the northern city of San Fernando, Miriam’s story represents so many of the problems in Mexico. As New York Times notes, “The country is so torn apart by violence and impunity that a grieving mother had to solve the disappearance of her daughter largely on her own, and died violently because of it.”