A U.S. citizen missing for more than a month is believed to have been kidnapped in Mexico, and the FBI is offering tens of thousands of dollars for her return.
Maria del Carmen Lopez, 63, was kidnapped from her residence in Mexico on Feb. 9, according to a statement from the FBI – nearly a month before four Americans kidnapped by cartel members made headlines early in March.
A $20,000 reward is being offered for information leading to her location. Tips can be submitted by phone to the FBI in Los Angeles at (310) 477-6565 or online at tips.fbi.gov.
Witnesses reported that Lopez, a mother of seven, was forcibly taken into a white van that drove onto her property in the Mexican state of Colima, her family told ABC7. Before Lopez was taken, “there was an exchange of words” with the people in the van, her daughter, Zonia, said.
Zonia said the family “all started calling her to see if she would pick up her phone … and we have not heard from her.”
The disappearance of Lopez, a dual U.S.-Mexico citizen who previously lived in southern California, is being investigated jointly by the FBI and Mexican law enforcement authorities, ABC7 reported. Investigators have ruled out the possibility of cartel involvement, but believe Lopez’s capture may still be related to organized kidnapping, Zonia said.
The U.S. State Department advises against traveling to Colima entirely due to the risk of crime and kidnapping.
A GoFundMe page set up to fund search and travel expenses — as well as “the reward being offered” — has raised $9,046 at the time of writing.
Lopez was last seen just under a month before four South Carolinians visiting Mexico were caught in gunfire in the city of Matamoros and kidnapped on March 3. Two of the Americans died, and two were returned alive days later by the Gulf cartel, which issued an apology letter and surrendered five members to law enforcement.
That incident prompted a national outcry over the threat of Mexican drug cartels just ahead of the spring break season.