Family calls on US, Mexican governments to help bring back kidnapped mother

Tribune Content Agency

LOS ANGELES — Nearly four months since American citizen Maria Del Carmen Lopez was kidnapped from her home in Colima, Mexico, her family pleaded for help from U.S. President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to help return the great-grandmother home safely.

Lopez, 63, was kidnapped from her home on Feb. 9, and her family said they have not received any meaningful updates from authorities in the last several weeks. The kidnappers were in communication with the family, but stopped contacting them nearly nine weeks ago.

The family pleaded for the woman’s safe return during a news conference in the West Adams neighborhood in hopes of bringing more attention to the case, which they feel has gone cold.

“Do not let my mother’s voice fade into darkness,” Zonia Lopez, Maria Del Carmen Lopez’s daughter, said, standing next to a portrait of her mother. “Bring her home.”

On the day she was kidnapped, Lopez stopped at a local store and socialized with the employees. Then she went back home to water her plants, said her son, Jose Luis Lopez.

That’s when a van sped down her street and stopped in front of her home, Lopez’s neighbors told her family. People in the neighborhood usually gather around her home because she lives in the only place in the rural town of Pueblo Nuevo with a Wi-Fi signal. Three men in hoods jumped out of the vehicle and grabbed her. Witnesses heard her yell, “Please stop.”

She struggled to get away and fell to the ground, witnesses said. The men picked her up, put her into the van and sped off, according to her family.

Lopez’s family contacted authorities in the United States and were put in touch with the FBI. Federal police in Mexico also responded to the scene, but the family said updates from investigators have gone quiet.

The kidnappers contacted Lopez’s family a day after her abduction and demanded a ransom the family could not afford, Zonia Lopez said. Lopez was forced to record a message for her family, which her kidnappers played over the phone.

Her voice was desperate as she called out for her children, Zonia Lopez said.

“She’s pleading for her life,” Zonia Lopez said, her voice breaking as she recounted her mother’s message. “She’s saying, ‘Please, hurry up quickly. Give them what they want. My life depends on it.'”

Lopez was born in Colima and left for the United States when she was 17, according to her family. She raised seven children in Maywood, California. She has a dual citizenship with the United States and Mexico and moved back to her hometown of Pueblo Nuevo about 10 years ago, her family said.

On Wednesday, her family wore T-shirts emblazoned with her portrait and asked people to visit for more information. A spokesperson for the FBI’s office in Los Angeles said the investigation is ongoing and they are still working with Mexican authorities. The FBI is offering a $20,000 reward in exchange for information that leads to Lopez.

Lopez’s family believes she was targeted simply for the fact that she is an American citizen living in a rural town.

The last time Lopez visited California, she stayed at her son’s home in Riverside County.

He asked her to move back to the United States and offered her a place to stay at his home, where she could be closer to her grandchildren. Lopez has 19 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

On the day she was abducted, she spoke to her son, Lopez Jr., over the phone.

“It was just an everyday conversation,” he said. She planned to water her colorful garden, a lemon tree and her dragon fruit while also tending to her chickens.