An 8-year-old girl from Washington state, who was last seen in October 2018, was recently found in Mexico and returned to the U.S. last month, the FBI said.
Aranza Maria Ochoa Lopez’s biological mother kidnapped her on Oct. 25, 2018, from a shopping mall in Vancouver, Washington, the FBI said. At the time, a missing person poster was released and a $10,000 reward was announced in an effort to find her.
Nearly five years after she was reported missing, Aranza was found in Michoacán, Mexico, the FBI’s Seattle office said in a news release Wednesday. She was returned to the U.S. in February.
“FBI special agents escorted her back to the U.S. Aranza’s safety and privacy is of utmost importance,” the FBI said. Her location in the U.S. is not being disclosed, and no further details were released.
“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. “Our concern now will be supporting Aranza as she begins her reintegration into the U.S.”
After Aranza was taken, investigators said they determined she was taken to Mexico.
Aranza’s biological mother was taken into custody in September 2019 in Puebla, Mexico, the FBI said. The child was not found at that time, but was believed to still be in Mexico.
At the time of the kidnapping, Aranza was in foster care, following complaints that her mother Esmeralda Lopez-Lopez physically abused her, local newspaper The Columbian reported.
Lopez-Lopez pleaded guilty in January 2021 to kidnapping, robbery and custodial interference in Clark County Superior Court and was sentenced to 20 months in prison, court records show.