California woman kidnapped in Mexico released by captors, FBI says

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SAN MATEO, Calif. (KRON) — A San Mateo, California woman who was kidnapped in Mexico last year has been found and will soon be reunited with her Bay Area family, the FBI has confirmed.

Monica De Leon Barba was walking her dog in Tepatitlán, Jalisco, Mexico on Nov. 29, 2022, when she was kidnapped, the FBI previously shared.

Authorities said De Leon Barba, a U.S. citizen living in Mexico at the time, was held in captivity until Friday, when she was released by her captors. No arrests have been made in connection to her kidnapping and an investigation remains underway.

The FBI shared video of her suspected kidnapping to the public in April to help find her. In the video, De Leon Barba can be seen walking along the road with her dog before apparently being forced into a vehicle by several suspects.

In a second clip, three cars used in the kidnapping were highlighted, the FBI said. The descriptions of five suspects were released as well. De Leon Barba’s dog was later seen running loose in the street before it was found, unharmed, by a family member.

The FBI previously offered a $40,000 reward for information leading to De Leon Barba.

“For the past eight months, FBI personnel in California and Mexico have worked tirelessly with the family and with partners here and in Mexico,” said Special Agent In Charge Robert Tripp of the FBI San Francisco Field Office. “Our relief and joy at the safe return of Monica and Gael is profound. The FBI investigation is far from over, but we can now work this case knowing an innocent victim is reunited with her family. On behalf of the FBI, I want to extend my sincere thanks to our law enforcement partners, to the family, and to the San Mateo community for their continued engagement and advocacy. They never forgot Monica, and neither did we.”

Additional details have not yet been released.

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