American woman kidnapped in Mexico released after being held captive for 8 months
Monica De Leon Barba, 40, was kidnapped on November 29, 2022, while she was walking from work to her home with her dog in Tepatitlan, Jalisco in western Mexico
July 17, 2023 1:07am
Updated: July 17, 2023 1:07am
An American woman from the Bay Area was released on Friday after she was kidnapped and held captive for eight months, FBI officials announced on Saturday.
Monica De Leon Barba, 40, was kidnapped on November 29, 2022, while she was walking from work to her home with her dog in Tepatitlan, Jalisco in western Mexico. Surveillance footage of the incident shows at least five suspects confronting her, before dragging her inside a car.
By March, the FBI publicly acknowledged the kidnapping and was offering up to $40,000 for any information leading toward the location of 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," Robert Tripp, the special agent in charge of the FBI's San Francisco office, said in a statement. "Our relief and joy at the safe return of Monica is profound."
The woman was released by her captors on Friday night. Details of her release were not immediately released, however, the FBI said demands were made by her abductors.
The FBI said the woman was safe and will be returning to her family in the United States.
Mexico has one of the highest kidnapping rates in the world, according to an analysis by Global Guardian. Although many Mexican cartels have been linked to several abductions in Mexico, the FBI has not released any information about De Leon’s kidnappers.
"No arrests have been made, and an investigation into the identity of her captors remains ongoing," the FBI San Francisco office said in its statement Saturday.
De Leon Barba was born in Jalisco, where she had been spending most of her time since June 2022, the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office told SFGate.
Federal agents believe she was the subject of a “targeted kidnapping” after her 20-year-old cousin, Gael de Leon, was also kidnapped in Guadalajara hours after she was abducted. He has since been released and reunited with his family in Mexico.