A girl from Washington who went missing in 2018 has been found in Mexico, the FBI announced on Wednesday. Aranza Maria Ochoa Lopez was last seen with her biological mother at a mall in Vancouver, Washington, when she was 4 years old.
Lopez had a supervised visit with her mother the day she went missing, the FBI confirmed to CBS News. Her mother was arrested about one year later in Puebla, Mexico, but Lopez remained missing.
The FBI had offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of Lopez. They worked with the Vancouver Police in Washington on the investigation, as well as law enforcement in Mexico.
Mexican authorities found the girl in Michoacán, Mexico, in February, and she was escorted back to the U.S. by FBI special agents.
“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.”
A representative for the FBI did not provide further information about Lopez’s case. CBS News has also reached out to the Vancouver Police Department for further information.
During the supervised visit, Lopez’s mother, Esmeralda Lopez-Lopez, asked to take her to the restroom at the mall, according to local publication The Columbian. She then fled with her daughter to a stolen vehicle and they left with an accomplice.
Lopez had been in foster care because of complaints that her mother abused her.
After being arrested in Mexico in 2019, Lopez-Lopez pleaded guilty in 2021 to second-degree kidnapping and robbery and first-degree custodial interference and she was sentenced to 20 months in prison, according to The Columbian.
Most abducted children are taken by family members, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Just 1% of missing children cases are abductions by non-family members, according to the center’s data.