For five years, the search was on for Aranza Maria Ochoa Lopez after her biological mother kidnapped her from a Washington shopping mall in 2018. Fortunately, authorities were successful; they discovered that she had been taken to Mexico and is now safe to return home. After spending these long years away from sight, Aranza will soon be reunited with family here in the United States!
On Wednesday, the FBI made an announcement: Ochoa Lopez has returned home to the United States. Two years prior, in 2018, she was taken from a shopping center in Vancouver Washington by her birth mother Esmeralda Lopez-Lopez while under supervision.
In February, Mexican authorities successfully tracked down Ochoa Lopez in the western state of Michoacan. Although they have yet to reveal specifics regarding her rescue, we are anxiously anticipating a response from either the FBI or Mexican officials on who exactly accompanied her during that time and how she was eventually located and brought back home to America.
In October 2018, a tragic event occurred when an innocent child was taken from her home. After the FBI determined that she had been relocated to Mexico, it launched an investigation into the kidnapper’s identity. This resulted in September 2019 with the arrest of the girl’s mother and the taking them both into custody at Puebla in east-central Mexico. Unfortunately, despite their efforts, they have yet to locate the kidnapped child as of this moment – however, they remain determined to bring her back safely one day soon.
In 2021, Esmeralda Lopez-Lopez (pictured above) admitted guilt to second-degree kidnapping, robbery, and first-degree custodial interference charges as noted in a Mexican report featured by The Columbian newspaper.
For years, the small girl was lost and authorities despaired of ever finding her. Yet Richard A. Collodi, head of Seattle’s FBI office, proudly declared that his forces continued searching for her without letting their hope or effort waver in the slightest.
“For more than four years, the FBI and our partners did not give up on Aranza,” Collodi stated. “Our concern now will be supporting Aranza as she begins her reintegration into the US.”
The FBI urgently put out a $10,000 reward for information that would aid them in tracking down the abducted girl and launched an investigation traversing North America. To assist their efforts, they partnered with law enforcement officers at Vancouver Police Department as well as Mexican authorities south of the U.S.-Mexico border to secure her safe return home.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children found that the majority of abducted kids are taken away by relatives. This was certainly true for Ochoa Lopez, a small child who went missing from Vancouver’s shopping mall during an outing with her mom.
According to the NCMEC, only a small fraction of missing child cases involve abduction by strangers – an astoundingly minuscule one percent.