An eight-year-old girl who was kidnapped from a shopping mall in the US in 2018 has been found safe and well in Mexico five years on.
Aranza Maria Ochoa Lopez, who was in foster care, was taken by her biological mother Esmeralda Lopez-Lopez from a shopping ventre in Vancouver, in Washington state, when she was four years old.
She was last seen on a supervised visit with her mother, who was arrested in Pueblo, Mexico, in September 2019.
The FBI announced on Wednesday that Aranza, who is now eight years old, had finally been found and returned to the US.
Mexican authorities found Aranza in Michoacán, a state in western Mexico, in February and the FBI brougnt her home.
Aranza’s mother pleaded guilty in January 2021 to second-degree kidnapping, robbery and first-degree custodial interference but did not reveal the girl’s whereabouts.
She was sentenced to 20 months in prison.
Aranza was placed in foster care in 2017 over concerns her mother was abusing her, local reports said.
The FBI had offered a $10,000 reward for information that could help them with the search.
Richard A. Collodi, special agent in charge of the FBI‘s Seattle field office, praised the team’s efforts and said that law enforcement never gave up on finding Aranza.
“For more than four years, the FBI and our partners did not give up on Aranza,” Collodi said.
“Our concern now will be supporting Aranza as she begins her reintegration into the US.”
According to data from the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the majority of abducted children are taken by family members, with only 1 per cent of missing children cases involving abductions by non-family members.
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