Mónica de León Barba, 29, was kidnapped on November 29, 2022 in Tepatitlán, Jalisco, Mexico while walking her dog from work to her home. The Jalisco-Mexico-born U.S. citizen moved back to Mexico from San Mateo, California in June 2022 to pursue photography. She began working with her cousin’s girlfriend Ale Olivas, who describes her as a loving, “incredible” person. Four months later, her loved ones are demanding answers and to find De León Barba for once and for all.

The FBI is now offering a reward of $40,000 “for information leading to the recovery of Mónica de León Barba” and are requesting the public’s assistance for any leads. They describe the woman as 5’7 with brown hair and brown eyes. While the FBI states De León Barba disappeared while walking home with her dog, a testimony the woman’s friend Olivas agrees with, Facebook group “Help Us Find Monica De Leon” says she was on her way to a FIT 4 LIFE gym. At the time, she was wearing a black t-shirt and pants, and had black and blonde highlights in her hair.

As De León Barba’s friend Ale Olivas told mitú, the family is “furious” and feels “powerless”

Kidnappers reportedly forced the 29-year-old into a van in broad daylight, two blocks from the National Guard. Her brother Gustavo De León issued a statement, asking Mexican officials to place “the importance that this case merits” into finding his sister.

As per his statement, kidnappers abducted his sister “in plain daylight, blocks from a national guard station.”

Meanwhile, De León told NBC Bay Area that an “off-camera” moment at the time of the kidnapping shows “a lot of commotion, a lot of cars pulling up and then moments after, they just speed off.”

The woman’s brother added on Facebook, “It’s been four terrible months since my sister’s kidnapping; even though we’ve tried to bring her back everyday, we haven’t achieved results.”

The brother continued on a more emotional note, “I can’t stop thinking about the suffering and fear my sister has dealt with for the last 121 days, and for that I beg for anyone to help us spread the word and news about the FBI’s reward.”

As he explained, the woman’s loved ones just want her “safe and sound.”

Meanwhile, the woman’s close friend Olivas told mitú that the family is “furious” and feels “powerless” regarding the case. They also “don’t know who to trust” regarding authorities handling the case, and are taking matters into their own hands.

What is happening with De León Barba’s case now?

Olivias explained to mitú that after De León Barba disappeared, kidnappers asked for a reward. Moreover, Robert Tripp, FBI Special Agent in Charge in San Francisco, told KTVU this week that they believe this was a “targeted” kidnapping. He stated, “We believe she is still being held hostage. The hostage takers have been in contact with her family and the FBI is working very close with her family and with authorities in Mexico to bring her home safely.”

Olivas told mitú that authorities originally told the woman’s loved ones to “not make noise” or spread the word about the case. They listened, but more than three months later, “they still haven’t seen results.” According to the woman’s close friend, “Mexican police aren’t very happy that [they are] making noise now,” and she feels like Mexican authorities “let go of the case” already.

The missing woman’s family are now urging politicians like U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar and California Senator Alex Padilla to take action. Congresswoman Jackie Speier has since contacted them, telling KPIX, “I am actively engaged in the case and in daily contact with the family and various federal agencies… It is imperative that we do everything to find Monica.”

More attention to De León Barba’s echoes other kidnappings of U.S. citizens in Mexico

This case echoes several other U.S. citizens kidnapped in Mexico as of late. For one, the kidnapping of four Americans at gunpoint in Matamoros, Tamaulipas this month that left two dead. Meanwhile, 63-year-old U.S. citizen Maria del Carmen Lopez also disappeared from her home in Pueblo Nuevo, Colima, Mexico. Both incidents occurred in the past two months.

As De León Barba’s brother wrote on Facebook, “Since the time of my sisters’ kidnapping we have all seen the news of multiple US Citizens that have been robbed of their freedom while traveling in Mexico.”

He asserted, “I will not allow my sister to become another statistic of cowardice and inaction in politics.”