It reads like an improbable thriller novel, but it's all too true. A story by Azam Ahmed in the New York Times Magazine tracks the incredible story of Mexico's Miriam Rodriguez. In 2014, her adult daughter was kidnapped in San Fernando, then tortured and killed by her abductors even though the family paid ransoms. The police did nothing to catch the culprits, which led Rodriguez to become a combination of private detective and vigilante. She methodically pieced together the story of her daughter's kidnapping, identified suspects, then used fake ID cards and disguises (pollster, government official, health worker, etc.) to get near them. With a handgun, she would single-handedly detain them until police arrived to make the arrest.
"In all, she was instrumental in taking down 10 people, a mad campaign for justice that made her famous, but vulnerable," writes Ahmed. After all, nobody went after organized crime the the way she did, let alone a private citizen in her 50s. “I don’t care if they kill me,” Rodríguez once said. “I died the day they killed my daughter. ... I’m going to take out the people who hurt my daughter and they can do whatever they want to me.” She did, however, ask the government for protection after two dozen prisoners escaped from a penitentiary holding the people she helped put behind bars. Police say they periodically patrolled by her home, but it wasn't enough. On Mother's Day in 2017, gunmen fatally shot Rodriguez outside her home. Read the full story. (Read more Longform stories.)