On Thursday, March 16, the FBI announced that they were offering a $20,000 reward for information on Maria Del Carmen Lopez, a 63-year-old American woman who went missing in Mexico.
Authorities stated that the victim was reportedly abducted from her home in Pueblo Nuevo, Colima, on February 9.
Trigger warning: This article concerns kidnapping and organized crime
According to CBS Los Angeles, an anonymous cousin of Maria Del Carmen Lopez said that the mother-of-seven was taken from her home by a group of five people. Her children said that they believed their mother had been targeted in an oppurtunistic kidnapping. They claimed that she had no affiliations with organized crime.
The FBI described Maria Del Carmen Lopez as a 5 foot 2 inch tall woman with blonde hair, brown eyes, and tattooed eyeliner. No arrests have been announced in the investigation so far.
Family members and Officials comment on the abduction of Maria Del Carmen Lopez
Zonia, Maria Del Carmen Lopez's daughter, said that prior to the abduction, there had been no indication that the victim was being targeted in any way:
"There was never any sort of threats, there was never any enemies. Anything that would indicate that she was in any kind of trouble."
She further claimed that a witness at the scene reported seeing what appeared to be a systematic abduction:
"Someone did see. There was a car that drove into the property. There was an exchange of words, they did hear her say she would not get into the car. Two individuals picked her up and another one came out of the van. They had their heads covered and they covered her mouth and that's when they took her."
Zonia added that the abductors most likely planned the crime in advance, as Maria Del Carmen Lopez was taken from a remote town. According to CNN, when asked by reporters whether or not the suspects had asked for a ransom, Zonia said she was unable to disclose that information.
In an official statement, Donald Alway, FBI Assistant Director in Charge of the Los Angeles Field Office, said that investigators do not believe that Mexican drug cartels are involved in the case. However, authorities do suspect that she may have fallen victim to an organized kidnapping gang.
“We are going to pursue this, and we’ll look at every avenue and we’ll follow every lead and we’ll open every door that we can find to ensure that our primary goal is to get her back safely."
In the wake of the abduction, Maria Del Carmen Lopez's family set up a GoFundMe page. The page stated that any donations would go towards reward money and travel expenses required in the search effort. As of March 18, the page has raised $6,645 of a $50,000 goal.