A young girl who was kidnapped in 2018 from a Washington state mall has ben found in Mexico and returned to the United States.
Aranza Maria Ochoa Lopez was taken on October 25, 2018. Now, at 8-years-old, she has been found in Michoacán, Mexico, according to KGUN-TV. A statement from the FBI said that because “Aranza’s safety and privacy is of utmost importance, [h]er location in the U.S. is not being disclosed.”
“For more than four years, the FBI and our partners did not give up on Aranza,” said special agent Richard A. Collodi. “Our concern now will be supporting Aranza as she begins her reintegration into the U.S.”
The Columbian reported that Aranza was in state custody at the time of her abduction, having been placed in foster care in 2017, following substantiated complaints of physical abuse inflicted by her mother, Esmeralda Lopez-Lopez.
It had been discovered that the girl had suffered large bruises, and Lopez-Lopez was considered a risk to her well being. She was granted twice-weekly supervised visitations at the time of the abduction.
During one such visitation, Lopez-Lopez had asked to take her daughter to a restroom while visiting the Vancouver Mall. Instead, she took the girl out of the mall and into a waiting vehicle.
Nearly a year later, in September 2019, Lopez-Lopez was apprehended in Puebla, Mexico, but Aranza was not with her. In 2021, she pleaded guilty to second-degree kidnapping and robbery and first-degree custodial interference, according to the U.K. Daily Mail.
“I feel bad about it. I’m sorry,” she said at the time of her sentencing, a comment that was dismissed by Clark County Superior Court Judge Daniel Stahnke.
“You should not have taken her to a place where you no longer know where she’s at,” Stahnke said.
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