SAN ANTONIO — Meet a Texas woman who is breaking news from her truck: Priscilla Villarreal lives life in the fast lane to track down crime, corruption and chaos.
The notorious citizen journalist is in the border town of Laredo. She is known as "La Gordiloca" and has generated an international audience for her gritty style of reporting.
Villarreal chases down stories all over Laredo, driving a beat-up Dodge pick-up called the "Blue Demon."
On a hot afternoon in April, she took KENS 5 for a ride in her "newsroom on wheels." We stumbled on Laredo Police officers at a scene under a bridge. It ended up only being a search.
"There has been a lot of drug addicts stealing in this area," she said. "They're probably looking for something."
The 34-year-old is a top news source in Laredo. She strolls up to scenes and reports live on her Facebook page. She said she has about 2.1 million post engagements, with 119,000 strong and loyal followers.
Her fans aren't hard to find in the town. We talked with several of them at her favorite food place, Suarez Restaurant.
"I admire her, because she tells it like it is," Jose Espinoza said.
"I don't sugarcoat anything," Villarreal said. "I say it like it is. I mean, there is times where I say, 'F***, I am going to get myself in trouble.' Too bad, it is what it is."
The uncensored, tatted-up 10th-grade dropout usually scoops her competition. Recently, a decorated Texas Army National Guard soldier was shot and killed. "La Gordiloca" was all over the story.
"I was the one that broke the news with the soldier," she said. "They just released the name yesterday. I was the first one that released the name. I already knew."
She has broken big stories involving city officials and Laredo police. She said most of her stories are generated through sources or tips.
"A lot of people trust me," she said. "They can trust me with whatever information they can give me."
The swearing "La Gordiloca" is turning heads and pages. She has been featured in Texas Monthly and the New York Times.
"I think I am getting the attention because of the way I talk, because I am in a border city to Mexico," she said. "And the following that I have in so little time."
She has no background in journalism. She said she fell into the business and has always been curious by nature. Villarreal has had to learn some important words to keep her out of the courtroom.
"I have gotten out of a lot of s*** with those words... 'allegedly' (and) 'it is being said,'" she said. "'I am being told,' and 'according to good sources.'"
The people in town seem not to mind the raw realness.
"Not everybody tells the truth," Espinoza said. "They are afraid of politics. They are afraid of religion, and she is not, which is the reason I admire her."
"In my case, it is raw and unedited news," she said. "I cuss a lot. Not because I want to, but it is the only way to get through to people here in my town."
Villarreal is also tackling a major issue in Laredo. She is wanting to create a support group on suicide prevention. She admitted she has tried to take her own life four times.
"It is becoming an epidemic in our city," she said.
In terms of chasing news stories, she will be slowing down in the coming months. Villarreal is expecting a baby, and wants to focus on having a healthy pregnancy.
"(I'm) a down-to-earth person just wanting to get the truth out," she said.
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