(NEW YORK) — An 8-year-old girl from Washington state who had been missing for over four years following a kidnapping by her biological mother was recently found in Mexico, federal authorities said.
Aranza Maria Ochoa Lopez was safely returned to the U.S. in February after being located by local authorities in Michoacán, the FBI said Wednesday. Special agents escorted her back to the U.S. to a location that is not being disclosed due to privacy concerns, the FBI said.
“For more than four years, the FBI and our partners did not give up on Aranza,” Richard A. Collodi, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Seattle field office, said in a statement. “Our concern now will be supporting Aranza as she begins her reintegration into the U.S.”
No further information on the case will be released at this time, the FBI said.
Aranza, then 4, was kidnapped on Oct. 25, 2018, from a shopping mall in Vancouver, Washington, the FBI said. She was on a court-supervised visit with her biological, non-custodial mother, Esmeralda Lopez-Lopez, when she was abducted, police said at the time.
Authorities determined that Lopez-Lopez had taken Aranza to Mexico. The mother was taken into custody in September 2019 in Puebla, Mexico.
Aranza’s exact whereabouts were unknown, but it is believed she was in Mexico, the FBI said.
Lopez-Lopez was sentenced to 20 months in prison in 2021 after pleading guilty to second-degree kidnapping, robbery and first-degree custodial interference, the Columbian reported.
The FBI had been offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the recovery of Aranza.
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