8‑Year-Old Washington State Girl Missing Since 2018 Found in Mexico and Returned to the U.S.

An 8‑year-old girl from Wash­ing­ton state, who had been miss­ing since Octo­ber 2018, was recent­ly found in Michoacán, Mex­i­co, and returned to the U.S. last month, the FBI announced. Aran­za Maria Ochoa Lopez was kid­napped by her bio­log­i­cal moth­er from a shop­ping mall in Van­cou­ver, Wash­ing­ton, and a miss­ing per­son poster was released with a $10,000 reward for infor­ma­tion on her whereabouts.

After near­ly five years of search­ing, Aran­za was locat­ed in Mex­i­co and returned to the U.S. in Feb­ru­ary with the help of FBI spe­cial agents. Her loca­tion in the U.S. is not being dis­closed to pro­tect her pri­va­cy, and no fur­ther details have been released.

Aran­za­’s bio­log­i­cal moth­er was tak­en into cus­tody in Mex­i­co in Sep­tem­ber 2019, but the child was not found at that time. Inves­ti­ga­tors deter­mined that she had been tak­en to Mex­i­co, and the FBI and their part­ners con­tin­ued to search for her for over four years.

Aran­za was in fos­ter care at the time of her abduc­tion due to alle­ga­tions of phys­i­cal abuse by her moth­er. Lopez-Lopez plead­ed guilty to kid­nap­ping, rob­bery, and cus­to­di­al inter­fer­ence in Jan­u­ary 2021 and was sen­tenced to 20 months in prison.

Richard A. Col­lo­di, spe­cial agent in charge of the FBI’s Seat­tle field office, praised the efforts of the FBI and their part­ners in find­ing Aran­za and stat­ed that their con­cern now is sup­port­ing her as she begins to rein­te­grate into the U.S.

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