Aranza Maria Ochoa Lopez was four years old when she was last seen on a supervised visit with her biological mother at the mall in Vancouver, Washington.
Her mother was arrested in 2019 in Puebla, Mexico, but the youngster, who is now 8, had remained missing until she was found in Michoacán, Mexico, in February and has now been returned to the US, say officials.
“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 US.”
Her mother, Esmeralda Lopez-Lopez, pleaded guilty in January 2021 to second-degree kidnapping and robbery and first-degree custodial interference in Clark County Superior Court.
She received a 20-month prison sentence, according to The Columbian.
The child was in the care of the state after being placed in foster care in 2017 following complaints that her mother had abused her.
She was granted twice-weekly visits with her daughter and on one of those asked to take her daughter to a restroom in the mall. She then fled with the girl and escaped in a car driven by an accomplice, according to the newspaper.