Child Who Went Missing From A Washington Mall In 2018 Found Safe In Mexico

8-year-old Aranza Maria Ochoa Lopez, who had been missing since 2018, was found alive and well in Mexico and returned to the United States.

March 10, 2023
Aranza Maria Ochoa Lopez, pictured here, went missing from a Washington mall in 2018. She has been found safe in Mexico.

8-year-old Aranza Maria Ochoa Lopez, who had been missing since 2018, was found alive and well in Mexico and returned to the United States.

Photo by: FBI


On Wednesday, March 8, 2023, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that a child missing since 2018 had been found in Mexico and safely returned to the United States. Aranza Maria Ochoa Lopez, now 8, was only four years old when she was abducted by her non-custodial, biological mother during a court-supervised visitation at a mall in Vancouver, Washington.

Esmeralda Lopez-Lopez, the child’s kidnapper and biological mother, was arrested in Puebla, Mexico, in 2019, and she was extradited back to Washington. However, Aranza’s whereabouts were unknown to authorities when her mother was arrested.

Lopez-Lopez was sentenced to 20 months in prison in 2021 after pleading guilty to second-degree kidnapping, second-degree robbery, and first-degree custodial interference in connection to her daughter’s disappearance, reported KPTV. She is now serving a 20-month prison sentence.

In February 2023, Mexican authorities found and safely recovered Aranza in Michoacán, Mexico, according to PEOPLE. FBI special agents then escorted the child back to the U.S. Her location here is not being disclosed out of respect for her safety and privacy.

“For more than four years, the FBI and our partners did not give up on Aranza. Our concern now will be supporting Aranza as she begins her reintegration into the U.S,” Richard A. Collodi, a special agent in charge of the FBI’s Seattle field office, stated.

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