‘Cannabis Mermaid’ influencer denies link to cartel leader after prison stint

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A glam social media star dubbed the "Cannabis Mermaid" has been forced to deny that she had links to a deadly drug cartel after spending six weeks behind bars.

Gaby Castillo, better known online as Briela Sanz, initially rose to fame in Mexico on reality TV show Falling In Love.

In January this year the 27-year-old was arrested alongside a man named José as they drove through Mexico City and was handed jail time, accused of selling drugs, bribery and concealment.

Speaking to El Gráfico she explained: "I allowed myself to be swept away by a person who tried to dazzle me.

"I risked my life, I could’ve never gotten out of there, ended up in a hole, my family could’ve cried for me or not found me anymore. God gave me a second chance."

Despite getting out of prison Gaby has been linked to La Unión Tepito, Mexico City's largest criminal organisation responsible for drug trafficking, human trafficking and extortion in the capital.

According to Insight Crime, La Unión Tepito was formed between 2009 and 2012 by disgruntled members of Beltrán Leyva Organization and La Familia Michoacána, two of Mexico's most powerful cartels at the time.

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They have since used extreme violence to wrest control of the capital from the then dominant Tepito Cartel, as well as international trafficking groups including Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel.

It has been suggested that Gaby was the girlfriend of Oscar 'El Lunares' Andres, the feared leader of La Unión Tepito until his arrest in January 2020 – with her denying this vehemently.

She said: "That caused me a big problem. Whatever I did, they related me to a drug network and it wasn't like that, I never met him."

According to Gaby, the rumour started when someone approached her asking for a photo.

She obliged, but it transpired that the man was actually a close associate of the cartel leader and thus started Gaby's "big problem".

She also claimed that, during her arrest this year, police told her "you are not leaving anymore because you were this person's girlfriend".

"I was the victim of an abuse of power; everything was staged," she said.

"I don't want to say that all security is bad, but there are bad elements that defamed me and maybe they thought that they would receive a medal in this manner."

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