American released after she was abducted and held for 8 months in Mexico

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

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

Though it wasn't clear what precipitated her release, work for her freedom was constant 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, 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."

Monica De Leon Barba. (FBI San Francisco)
Monica De Leon Barba. (FBI San Francisco)

No information about her abductors was available, and the FBI has not mentioned drug cartels in 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 people using multiple vehicles. It 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 recovered the dog.

"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.

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