American citizen kidnapped in Jalisco freed after 8 months


An American abducted in Mexico and held by captors for eight months was released Friday night and is safe, FBI officials said on Saturday, July 15th.

Monica De Leon Barba, from San Mateo County, California, just south of San Francisco, was abducted while walking home from work with her dog in Tepatitlán, Mexico, on Nov. 29, the bureau said on Saturday, July 15th.

Though it won’t be clear what precipitated the release, work for her freedom was a constant goal during De Leon Barba’s ordeal, the bureau said.

“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, FBI special agent in charge of the San Francisco office, said in a statement. “Our relief and joy at the safe return of Monica is profound.”

Monica De Leon Barba. (FBI San Francisco)

No information on her abductors was available, and the FBI has not mentioned drug cartels when communicating about the case. Cartels have been connected to the rise of kidnapping as a criminal enterprise in Mexico.

De Leon Barba’s brother told NBC Bay Area that the FBI said demands were made in her abduction. The FBI has not previously commented on any demands.

In April, the FBI posted two security camera videos of De Leon Barba’s abduction by suspects using multiple vehicles. The bureau said it hoped the videos would prompt witnesses to come forward with details of what they saw when she was snatched from a street, leaving her dog behind. Relatives later recovered the dog.

“No arrests have been made, and an investigation into the identity of her captors remains ongoing,” the FBI San Francisco said in its statement on Saturday, July 15th.