VANCOUVER, Wash. (KPTV/Gray News) – Authorities say a child missing since 2018 has been found in Mexico and has safely returned to the United States.
According to the FBI, Aranza Maria Ochoa Lopez was kidnapped by her biological non-custodial mother, Esmeralda Lopez, from a shopping mall in Washington state in October 2018.
KPTV reports that Aranza met her biological mother that day for a court-supervised visitation. Authorities determined that she was taken to Mexico.
The FBI said Aranza, now 8 years old, ended up being found safe last month in Michoacán, Mexico, by Mexican authorities and returned to the U.S. by special agents.
“For more than four years, the FBI and our partners did not give up on Aranza,” said Richard A. Collodi, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Seattle field office. “Our concern now will be supporting Aranza as she begins her reintegration into the U.S.”
Authorities said Aranza’s mother was arrested in Puebla, Mexico, in 2019 and extradited to Washington state.
In 2021, Lopez was sentenced to 20 months in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree kidnapping, robbery and first-degree custodial interference.
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