8-Year-Old Girl, Kidnapped in 2018, Found Safe in Mexico

An 8-year-old girl kidnapped in 2018 has been found in Mexico and returned to the United States.

Aranza Maria Ochoa Lopez was allegedly taken by her non-custodial biological mother during a supervised visit in Vancouver, Washington, in October 2018, as CrimeOnline previously reported. An Amber Alert was issued for the two, but it was later cancelled when authorities realized the mother, Esmeralda Lopez-Lopez, had taken the then-4-year-old girl to Mexico.

The FBI announced on Wednesday that Aranza was located in Michoacán, Mexico, last month and is now safely back in the United States, KATU reported. Lopez-Lopez was arrested in 2019, but the girl was not found until now.

According to the FBI, Mexican authorities found and recovered her, and FBI special agents escorted her back.

“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.”

No further information will be released, he said.

Lopez-Lopez was visiting with her daughter, who was in foster care, at a Vancouver shopping mall in 2018 when she asked to take the little girl to the restroom. She fled with the girl in a stolen vehicle.

She was arrested about a year later and extradited to Vancouver, where she pleaded guilty to second degree kidnapping, robbery, and custodial interference in January 2021, according to The Columbian. She was sentenced to 20 months in prison and is no longer on a list of Washington state inmates.

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[Featured image: Aranza Maria Lopez at 4-year-old/Vancouver Police Department]