Gaby Castillo, a 26-year-old Instagram influencer and aspiring pop artist, stands accused of being a gang member. 

According to Spanish language news outlet El Universal, Castillo was arrested recently in Mexico City on drug and fraud charges. Authorities believe she and her boyfriend Jose Hareff Soto Jimenez are affiliated with the Union Tepito gang, a drug-running outfit based in one of Mexico City’s most notorious neighborhoods. 

SSC, the uniformed police force of Mexico City, said officers found vast quantities of drugs and an illegal gun in Castillo’s car when she was apprehended. 

Authorities may file more charges against the 26-year-old as the investigation proceeds, reports indicate. 

SSC believes Gaby Castillo, 26, helped gang Union Tepito sell drugs, steal cars, and run an extortion scheme.
Mexico City police investigators claim that Gaby Castillo, 26-year-old Instagram influencer, helped the Union Tepito gang sell drugs, steal cars, and run an extensive blackmail scheme. Photo credit: Mexico City Police (SSC)

Influencer Gaby Castillo Arrested

According to Mexican police and foreign reports, Castillo was arrested Monday in Mexico City. In her brand-new, luxury pickup truck, SSC said she was carrying “hundreds” of packages believed to contain marijuana and cocaine, along with about 1 million pesos in cash — equivalent to nearly $50,000. 

Police said Castillo was in possession of a firearm that she allegedly purchased with a phony check last month. 

She and 35-year-old Jose Hareff Soto Jimenez, who local reporters believe is her boyfriend, were taken into custody at the scene. Police suspect both are members of Union Tepito, a Mexico City-based criminal enterprise with a diverse portfolio, including drug sales, extortion, blackmail, kidnapping, and various fraud schemes. 

Castillo and Hareff are accused of specializing in the gang’s fraud operations. Mexican police said the pair frequently purchased high-end cars and luxury vehicles with phony checks and resold them for cash before their victims caught on. Hareff is also believed to be a small-time drug wholesaler, supplying “small groups” and “independent dealers” throughout Mexico City, according to El Universal

Mexican officials said Gaby Castillo had these drugs in her car when she was arrested Monday.
Mexican officials said Gaby Castillo had these drugs in her car when she was arrested Monday. She’s facing drug and fraud charges, and more may come as the investigation proceeds. Photo credit: Mexico City Police (SSC)

What’s more, the 26-year-old influencer is suspected of running her own blackmail racket under the auspices of Union Tepito leadership. SSC officers claimed Castillo took “compromising photographs” of her “clients,” demanding cash and threatening to leak the images online.  

SSC investigators said Castillo and Hareff will face drug and fraud charges, but specific details were not immediately available Tuesday. 

Who is Gaby Castillo? 

The accused gang member and scam artist is notable for her Instagram presence. Castillo, posting under the name Briela Sanz, boasts almost 750,000 followers on the platform as of Tuesday. 

“Let yourself be carried away by the flow, sensuality and fantasy of the authentic Mexican chulita,” reads her bio.

Despite facing drug and fraud charges, Castillo’s page appears typical for a social media star in her 20s — she mainly posts selfies from the gym and poses for photos around Mexico City. Some photos show high-end cars, possibly the same vehicles that police believe she conspired to steal through fraudulent checks. 

Gaby Castillo was arrested Monday. The Instagram influencer was an aspiring musician.
Gaby Castillo was arrested Monday. The Instagram influencer was an aspiring musician, as is reported to be the ex-girlfriend of notorious Mexican gangster Oscar “Polka Dots” Flores. Photo credit: Instagram

Castillo also has musical ambitions. Under the Briela Sanz moniker, Castillo has posted two music videos for original songs on her YouTube channel, racking up more than 50,000 views between them. She was heavily promoting her latest single on Instagram in the weeks before her arrest on Monday. 

Outside of social media, reports indicate that the 26-year-old has an extensive personal history with known members of Union Tepito. El Universal wrote that Castillo was the long-time girlfriend of Oscar “Polka Dots” Flores, who police believe was a high-ranking member of the gang. 

Flores is currently serving 20 years in prison for murder, racketeering, and drug trafficking, the outlet added.