An 8-year-old girl from Washington state was found in Mexico on Wednesday and returned safely home after being kidnapped and was missing for four years, per ABC News.
In 2018, Aranza Maria Ochoa Lopez was abducted by her biological mother, last seen at a shopping mall in Vancouver, Washington. Aranza was 4 at the time.
Her mother, Esmeralda Lopez-Lopez, did not have custody over Aranza and was at the mall with her under a court-supervised visit.
The FBI offered a $10,000 reward for anyone who had information leading to Aranza’s safe recovery, and in 2019, they found Esmeralda and took her into custody. But the whereabouts of her daughter were still unknown, but they had reason to believe she was somewhere in Mexico.
In an official statement given by the Seattle FBI agency, they said, “Mexican authorities were able to locate and safely recover Aranza Lopez in Michoacán, Mexico. FBI special agents escorted her back to the US. Aranza’s safety and privacy is of utmost importance. Her location in the US is not being disclosed, and no additional information will be released at this time.”
Richard A. Collodi, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Seattle branch, stated, “For more than four years, the FBI and our partners did not give up on Aranza. Our concern now will be supporting Aranza as she begins her reintegration into the US.”
The FBI also gave credit to the “FBI’s legal attaché in Mexico City; Vancouver Police Department; Washington state’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families; Fiscalía General del Estado de Michoacán (FGE Michoacán); and the Instituto Nacional de Migración,” in their assistance in helping to locate Aranza.
The mother, Esmeralda, was sentenced to 20 months in prison in 2021 after pleading guilty to second-degree kidnapping, first-degree custodial interference, and robbery, according to The Columbian.
No further information has been reported.