Motherhood is said to rewire how women perceive the world. Upon giving birth, women’s perspective on what matters changes. And we’ve all heard mothers can do just about anything to protect their children. Miriam Rodríguez is a perfect example of how strong motherly love can be after living every mother’s single worst nightmare. 

A Mexican cartel kidnaped the youngest of her three children, Karen. But, rather than feel hopeless, Rodríguez vowed to avenge her daughter. In doing so, she brought all the men involved to justice — becoming a real-life superhero.

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Karen’s kidnapping unleashed Rodriguez’s vendetta, going after the Zeta cartel

It all started with a phone call. In 2014, Rodríguez began a harrowing journey that no one would ever dream of embarking on. The Zeta cartel kidnaped her daughter, Karen, the New York Post reports.

In the early hours of January 24, she received a call from her eldest daughter. Azalea told her mother, who was in Texas then, that Karen had been taken. The kidnappers contacted Rodríguez’s ex-husband, alerting him they would be seeking a ransom.

They were demanding one million pesos (~$77,000 in 2014) and wanted it by 3 p.m. the next day. During this call, her father reportedly spoke to Karen as she transmitted a message to him. 

“If you pay them, they will let me go. If not, then I guess this is goodbye,” the publication details Karen said.

Sometime after, Rodríguez received another call, leaving Texas and traveling back to the San Fernando Valley. Rodríguez and her husband emptied their life savings and took out a loan to make up the difference.

Despite paying the ransom in full, Rodríguez and her family never saw Karen again. Her disappearance and presumed murder led Rodríguez down a path of justice. She knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she would make the kidnappers pay.

Her story was so compelling that it was even turned into the 2021 film “La Civil.” 

Rodríguez brought all 11 men involved in her daughter’s kidnapping to justice before her death

Proving that the love of a mother is nothing to be trifled with, Rodríguez went on to pursue the kidnappers who had caused her pain. The Compassionate Friends share how the death of a child can cause a “profound family crisis.” 

The organization details that it is an “extremely intense” form of grief. It can have the power to alter one’s sense of identity. This is what happened to Rodríguez. 

Azam Ahmed, author of a book based on Rodríguez’s story, expressed the sternness that washed over the mother. 

He said, “There was no self-pity in her voice, no tears or currents of pain spread across her face. She stood for a moment, choosing her words. ‘For the rest of my life, with the time that I have, I’m going to find the people who did this to my daughter. And I’m going to make them pay.’”

The mother spent three years in pursuit of Karen’s abductors, Al Día reports. Members of the Zeta cartel allegedly changed their appearances and took on new jobs to blend into society. But that didn’t stop her.

Using her wits, fake IDs, and disguises, Rodríguez helped capture all 11 of Karen’s kidnappers. She also helped form the Colectivo de Desaparecidos de San Fernando. This support group helps families find their missing loved ones. It is composed of 600 families working together to search for lost relatives.

But, the cartel took notice of her dogged persistence. Weeks after she caught the final one in 2017, she was shot in her home 12 times, it was Mother’s Day.

According to The Guardian, her son found her lying face down on the ground, reaching for the pistol in her purse. Rodríguez passed hours later at the hospital.