MEXICO CITY—A reality TV star and aspiring reggaetón artist was arrested in Mexico City on Monday in a stolen car with over 150 bags of cocaine.
Gabriela Castillo, 26, has been publicly linked romantically to multiple well-known gangsters in the Mexican capital in the past and was detained this week alongside an alleged member of a car theft ring, according to local media.
Castillo—who also goes by the name Briela Sanz on social media—has been rumored to be connected to organized crime ever since the high-profile murders of two reality TV stars in 2019.
She was finally arrested this week when authorities pulled over a black Ford F4 model truck containing the influencer and a man named Haref Soto, 35. The investigators had been reportedly investigating a car theft scheme allegedly run by members of the Soto family that operates throughout Mexico.
Members of the group allegedly buy vehicles around the country using cheques which would later bounce. The group then resell the vehicles. Inside the stolen truck, authorities reportedly found 169 small baggies of cocaine and another 70 containing weed.
Castillo first gained a measure of fame when she appeared on the popular Mexican dating show Enamorándonos, or “Falling in Love” in English, in 2018. But her notoriety rose significantly after the murders of two former contestants on Enamorándonos in 2019, and her name reportedly came up in the case files as having been the girlfriend of various members of the Unión Tepito gang. The Unión Tepito have long been involved in drug dealing and extortion rackets in Mexico City, along with other crimes.
Both murders took place in 2019. In May that year, a former female contestant on Enamorándonos, Nataly Michel Rodríguez, was found strangled to death in an apartment in Mexico City. She had allegedly been the ex-girlfriend of a Unión Tepito hitman named Mauricio Hidalgo, nicknamed El Pollo, who was the principal suspect in her murder. El Pollo was shot to death two months later.
On December 2 of that year, a second former participant of the show, Brian del Pardo, was murdered in a motorcycle driveby shooting while in his car after leaving a night club in Mexico City. Soon after, Mexican news outlet La Silla Rota cited leaked police investigations into the killings of both Rodríguez and Del Prado that mentioned Castillo as a former ex-girlfriend of El Pollo as well. It also stated that Castillo was the current girlfriend of one of the top bosses of the Unión Tepito, Óscar Andrés Flores, alias El Lunares. El Lunares was arrested in early 2020 for a separate murder and was sentenced to over two dozen years in prison in October.
Castillo’s infamy grew in the aftermath of the two murders and the arrest of El Lunares. She's since amassed over 762,000 followers on Instagram where she regularly posts photos and videos scantily clothed and often with luxury cars.
Castillo also recently tried to launch a career as a reggaetón singer under her pseudonym Briela Sanz, releasing a single called "Enrola" along with a remix in 2021. Dressed up as a mermaid in the video wearing a bikini designed in the form of marijuana leaves, Castillo sings a love ballad where she says that “a date with you now is a crime.”
While she uses it in a sexual manner in the song, the word Enrola translates more closely to “enrolling” or “signing up” for something when not used as slang. It may not have been her intention, but the song could prove prescient if Castillo is prosecuted for her alleged crimes and connection to organized crime.