A California woman who was kidnapped in Mexico last year has been found safe and is returning to the United States.
According to the FBI, Monica de Leon Barba, a resident of San Mateo, California, was released by her captors on July 14. He had been held captive since November 29, 2022, when he was abducted while walking his dog in Tepetitlan, Jalisco.
“Our relief and joy at the safe return of Monica is immense,” said Robert Tripp, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Francisco field office. “The FBI investigation is not yet finished, but we can now work on this case knowing that an innocent victim has been reunited with her family.”
Mónica de León Barba, who moved to Mexico for a job opportunity in photography, is on her way home. Details regarding his release and the motive behind the abduction have not been disclosed. The FBI is cooperating with Mexican authorities to identify the suspects involved.
The safe return of 40-year-old Monica has brought hope amid security challenges in some areas of Mexico. Law enforcement agencies in Mexico continue to fight criminal organizations and work towards ensuring the safety of citizens and visitors.
Tripp confirmed, “No arrests have been made as authorities continue to search for suspects.”
According to security risk intelligence firm Global Guardian, Mexico has one of the highest kidnapping rates globally, which is attributed to the organization and opportunism of Mexican criminal enterprises. Recent incidents, such as the kidnapping of journalists in Nayarit and the explosive attack in Guadalajara, highlight existing security concerns.
The Jalisco New Generation Cartel, based in Jalisco, is one of Mexico’s most notorious criminal organizations. In 2019, the Department of Justice identified them as one of the top five most dangerous transnational criminal organizations in the world.
Monica’s safe release after a lengthy ordeal underscores the collaborative efforts between US and Mexican law enforcement agencies. The investigation into her abduction is on, with the hope of nabbing those responsible for her abduction.
Now the focus is on supporting Monica as she is reunited with her family and begins the process of healing from her traumatic experience.