Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
March 30, 2024 ·  4 min read

Mum Goes On Taken-Style Mission And Hunts Down 10 Involved In Daughter’s Murder One-By-One

As of November 23, 2020, there are more than 79,000 missing people in Mexico dating back to 2006. (1) The city of San Fernando is all-too-familiar with this fact. After her daughter’s murder in 2014, Miriam Rodríguez went on a taken-style mission to track down those responsible. This is her story. (2)

Mother Avenges Daughter’s Murder

In 2014, the Zetas drug cartel was at war with their former bosses, the Gulf cartel. (3) Constant shoot-outs between the rival gangs forced many bars and restaurants in the city to close their doors. (2) In order to afford weapons and ammo, the cartels needed money. One of the easiest ways to get money was by abducting people and demanding ransom money from their victim’s families. (3)

At the time, Miriam Rodríguez owned a cowboy apparel shop in the city called Rodeo Boots. Though her two other children left San Fernando because of the danger, her 20-year-old daughter Karen stayed to finish school and help her mom with the shop. (2)

On January 23, 2014, The Zetas abducted Karen while driving. Two trucks pulled up on either side of her, from which Armed men forced their way into her truck, took control of the vehicle, and took off. The Zetas were notorious for being one of the most brutally violent cartels in the country. (2)

What followed were weeks of calls back and forth between the cartel. The Rodríguez family sent multiple ransoms, fulfilling the Cartel’s every demand and following their instructions to a ‘t’. Sadly, the cartel never returned Karen to her family. (2)

A few weeks after the final payment, Miriam’s older daughter Azalea told The New York Times that her mother, who had moved in with her, came downstairs and stated that Karen was most likely dead. (2)

Miriam then said that she would avenge her daughter’s murder and planned to hunt down every single one of those involved with Karen’s death and bring them to justice. (2)

Her Daughter’s Murder: Bringing Justice

From that day, Miriam set out to use every angle she could to track down information about her daughter’s kidnapping. Within the year, her super-sleuthing eventually led the authorities to an abandoned ranch where Karen’s remains were found among dozens of other victims of Zeta’s kidnapping ring. (2)

Miriam Rodriguez spent five years hunting her daughter’s killers.
Image Credit: Facebook

Over the next three years, Miriam successfully tracked down 10 of the gang members involved in her daughter’s murder – each one was put in jail. She cut her hair and dyed it red. She pretended to be various people, got close to friends and family members of her targets to get information, and even impersonated government officials to get what she needed. Even followed them, learned their schedules, and then took them down and had them thrown in jail. (2)

A Dangerous Mission

As everyone suspected, her campaign for justice did not go unnoticed by the cartels. She was disrupting everything that the cartels had worked so hard to put in place in San Fernando. (2)

Miriam didn’t care.

“I don’t care if they kill me,” Mrs. Rodríguez once said. “I died the day they killed my daughter. I want to end this. I’m going to take out the people who hurt my daughter and they can do whatever they want to me.” (2)

In March 2017, a couple of dozen prisoners escaped from the penitentiary in Victoria where many of the cartel members Miriam had helped to detain were held. On Mother’s Day, ironically returning home from putting another person involved with her daughter’s murder behind bars, a group of those escaped prisoners shot and killed her right on her own front lawn. (2)

A Ripple Effect

Miriam’s community, though not entirely surprised by her assassination, grieved her death. As to be expected, however, fear of repercussions from the cartels caused her movement to fade. (2)

Six years later, the cartel abducted and subsequently killed another prominent San Fernando family’s 14-year-old son Luciano Leal Garza. This kidnapping of an innocent child, however, changed things for the people of San Fernando. (2)

This time, the citizens marched to demand little Luciano’s return. They held news conferences and organized search parties. The citizens pressured the government to act. Thanks to the work Miriam started, they would no longer be staying silent in the face of violence and oppression. (2)

The Pledge Against the Violence

Less and less, the Mexican people are tolerating murders like those of Karen Rodríguez and Luciano Leal Garza, along with the nearly 80,000 missing people in Mexico at the hands of the cartels. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador pledged to make human rights in Mexico a top priority and is committed to finding all of the country’s missing people. (1)

Though her crusade to catch all those involved in her daughter’s murder cost Miriam her life, her death wasn’t entirely in vain. The citizens of San Fernando erected a bronze plaque in the city in her honor. The plaque commemorates how she inspired others through her mission. (2)

Mexico has a long way to go before ending the violence and cartel crime. Hopefully, stories like these will continue to inspire people, and one day the whole country will be safer for its citizens.


  1. THE SEARCH FOR THE DISAPPEARED POINTS TO MEXICO’S DARKEST SECRETS.” Washington Post. Mary Beth Sheridan. December 3, 2020.
  2. “She Stalked Her Daughter’s Killers Across Mexico, One by One.” NY Times. Azam Ahmed. December 13, 2020.
  3. “Mexico cartels: Which are the biggest and most powerful?.” BBC. October 24, 2019.