For the last five years, authorities have been hunting for Aranza Maria Ochoa Lopez after she was kidnapped from a Washington shopping mall by her biological mother on October 25, 2018. Thankfully, the young girl has been located by authorities. After she was abducted by her mother, she was found living south of the border in Mexico and will be returned to her home in the United States following years of living out of sight from authorities.

The FBI announced the young girl’s return to the United States on Wednesday. She had been abducted by her biological mother back in 2018 from a mall in Vancouver, Washington. On the day Ochoa Lopez disappeared, she was being supervised by her mother, Esmeralda Lopez-Lopez.

In February, Mexican authorities were able to safely locate Ochoa Lopez. She was being hidden in the western Mexican state of Michoacan. Authorities have not revealed details about the girl’s rescue. We are still waiting for the FBI or Mexican authorities to reveal who the girl was with when she was found in Mexico or how authorities were able to track her down and return her to her rightful home in the United States.

After the child was kidnapped back in October 2018, the FBI determined that she had been relocated to Mexico. The girl’s mother was arrested and taken into custody in September 2019 in connection to her daughter’s kidnapping. She was brought to authorities in the Mexican city of Puebla, which is located in east-central Mexico. Meanwhile, the search for the missing girl continued.

In 2021, mom Esmeralda Lopez-Lopez (above) pleaded guilty to second-degree kidnapping, robbery, and first-degree custodial interference, according to a Mexican report published in the local newspaper The Columbian.

Although the little girl had been missing for years, Richard A. Collodi, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Seattle field office, confirmed that American authorities never gave up looking for the missing little girl.

“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.”

In addition to hunting North America for the missing girl, the FBI offered up a reward of $10,000 for information that would lead to locating the little girl who had been kidnapped. Throughout the investigation, the FBI partnered with law enforcement officers at the Vancouver Police Department as well as law enforcement authorities south of the border in Mexico.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the majority of children who are abducted are kidnapped by their family members. This was the case for little Ochoa Lopez, who was swiped from a shopping mall in Vancouver, Washington, during an outing with her mother.

Data from the NCMEC found that only one percent of missing children cases include abductions from people who are not family members.

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