8-Year-Old Washington Girl Kidnapped from Shopping Mall in 2018 Has Been Found in Foreign Country
A girl who was kidnapped from a Washington state mall in 2018 has been found in Mexico and brought back to the United States.
Aranza Maria Ochoa Lopez, who is now 8, was found in Michoacán, Mexico, according to KGUN-TV.
A statement by 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,” Special agent Richard A. Collodi said.
“Our concern now will be supporting Aranza as she begins her reintegration into the U.S.,” he said.
Aranza Maria Ochoa Lopez, 8, who went missing in October 2018, was safely returned to the United States in February 2023 after being recovered in Michoacán, Mexico.
— KOMO News (@komonews) March 11, 2023
The FBI said the girl was taken on Oct. 25, 2018.
The girl was in the custody of the state when she was taken, according to the Columbian.
She was placed in foster care in 2017 after there were substantiated complaints of physical abuse inflicted by her mother, Esmeralda Lopez-Lopez.
The girl had large bruises, and Lopez-Lopez was considered a risk to the girl’s well-being. Lopez-Lopez was granted twice-weekly supervised visitations at the time the girl was abducted.
Lopez-Lopez had asked to take her daughter to a restroom during a visit at the Vancouver Mall. Instead, she took the girl out of the mall and into a waiting vehicle.
After more than a year on the run in Mexico, Esmeralda Lopez-Lopez, 21, appeared in #Clarkwa court Friday to face charges stemming from her allegedly abducting her 5-year-old daughter during a supervised visit at #Vanwa Mall in Oct. 2017. pic.twitter.com/8Ts3IqSERr
— Jerzy Shedlock (@jerzyms) October 4, 2019
Lopez-Lopez was taken into custody in September 2019 in Puebla, Mexico, and in 2021 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, the Columbian.
Clark County Superior Court Judge Daniel Stahnke dismissed the comment during her sentencing.
“You should not have taken her to a place where you no longer know where she’s at,” Stahnke said.
During the hunt for the child, the FBI had offered a $10,000 reward for information to help find her, according to the Daily Mail.
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