Suspected members of the Mexican drug cartel 'Los Zetas' from Mexico and Guatemala wait in court for a judgement in Guatemala City on June 27, 2012.
  • A vigilante mother whose daughter was kidnapped and killed by a Mexican drug cartel carried out a years long crusade which saw her hunt down at least 10 of her daughter's killers entirely alone.
  • Miriam Elizabeth Rodríguez Martínez of San Fernando, Tamaulipas, Mexico became a fearless activist after her daughter, Karen Alejandra Salinas Rodríguez, 20, was abducted in 2014. 
  • She disguised herself by cutting and dying her hair and playing various roles including an election poll worker to collect names and addresses and a health worker wearing a uniform she kept from her old job at the Health Ministry, the Daily Mail reported.
  • On May 10, 2017, the day that Mexicans celebrate Mother's Day, Rodríguez was shot 12 times by gunmen outside her home, just weeks after chasing down her final target, according to The Sun.
  • Rodríguez had set up a group of 600 families working to find their missing relatives. Her son, Luis, has now returned home to run after initially leaving to escape San Fernando's violence.
  • Miriam Rodríguez is now considered a hero in her hometown and has a bronze plaque honoring her in its central square.
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The extraordinary courage of a Mexican mother who hunted down the drug cartel killers of her daughter has been revealed.

Miriam Elizabeth Rodríguez Martínez of San Fernando, Tamaulipas, became a fearless activist and vigilante after her daughter, Karen Alejandra Salinas Rodríguez, 20, was abducted on January 23, 2014 by the Los Zetas drug cartel, according to a  New York Times investigation.

Karen Rodríguez was in her pickup truck when armed men forced their way into her vehicle and abducted her.

Her family followed all the kidnappers' demands and took out a loan to pay the ransom, The New York Times reported. Miriam Rodríguez even met with a Los Zetas, drug cartel member who offered to help locate Karen for $2,000 (around R29,000) according to the Daily Mail.

However the family was duped and Karen Rodríguez's remains were found at an abandoned ranch later that year, The Mirror reported.

The authorities failed to arrest any of the Los Zetas kidnappers and Miriam Rodríguez dedicated the rest of her life to achieving justice for her daughter. The information she gave the police ensured the gang members were jailed.

To track down the killers, she changed her appearance, used a fake ID, and adopted many disguises. In one instance, she pretended to be an election poll worker to collect names and addresses and a health worker wearing a uniform she kept from her old job at the Health Ministry, the Daily Mail reported.

On one occasion, Rodríguez captured a cartel member while he was selling roses on the street. He recognized her, but the 56-year-old still managed to tackle him to the ground, hold a gun to his throat and threaten to kill him if he moved, according to the Daily Mail.

Rodríguez's crusade for justice ended on May 10, 2017, the day that Mexicans celebrate Mother's Day. She was shot 12 times by gunmen outside her home, just weeks after chasing down her final target, according to The Sun.

Her husband found her body lying face down on the street, with her hand inside her purse, next to her pistol.

Mexican TV channel, Foro TV, tweeted an image of her with the caption: "#LoMásVisto Miriam Rodríguez, the woman who chased her daughter's murderers until she caught them."

Miriam Rodríguez is a hero

Before her death, Rodríguez had asked the government for armed guards fearing she would be targeted by prisoners who had escaped from a jail in Ciudad Victoria, news.com.au reported.

Los Zetas, formerly an armed wing of the Gulf Cartel, have been engaged in a brutal war with their former bosses for years, The Mirror added. They frequently abduct innocent victims for ransom or conscript them. Sometimes they organize death matches between captives for sport, according to The New York Times.

San Fernando lies alongside a principal route north through Tamaulipas's state leading to the US. A network of dirt roads and scrubland create ideal drug smuggling routes, according to The New York Times.

In 2010, authorities discovered 72 bodies on the city's outskirts and the following year, the abductions of bus passengers led to almost 200 bodies being dumped in mass graves, The New York Times added. By 2014, mass graves became so common that the media stopped reporting any containing less than 20 victims, Remezcla reported.

Following Rodríguez's death, Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca, the Governor of Tamaulipas, tweeted that the state government "will not allow the death of Miriam Rodríguez to be one more statistic." 

Rodríguez had set up a group of 600 families working to find their missing relatives, and her son, Luis, now runs it.

Miriam Rodríguez is a hero in her hometown and has a bronze plaque honoring her in its central square.