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The Americas

American Professor Kidnapped in Mexican Border City

Arizona Professor

Photo of Veronica Perez Rodriguez. (Northern Arizona University)

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico -- Armed men kidnapped an American university professor while she was visiting her mother in the violent Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, the state prosecutor's office said Saturday.

The American was identified as Veronica Perez Rodriguez, an archeologist at Northern Arizona University.

A source at the Chihuahua state prosecutor's office said she was visiting her mother in Ciudad Juarez Friday afternoon "and the moment she left her family's house she was intercepted by armed men and deprived of her liberty."

A spokesman for the University of Northern Arizona reportedly confirmed Rodriguez e-mailed co-workers on Saturday that she was okay, but nothing further is known about the e-mail or Rodriguez's whereabouts.

Since 2003, Perez has been an associate professor of anthropology at the university in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Perez attended elementary, junior high, and high school in Ciudad Juarez, according to her resume, posted on the university's website. She is fluent in Spanish and English.

Perez, on her Northern Arizona University web page, describes herself as an ecological and environmental anthropologist and archeologist.

"My primary focus is the study of social complexity, urbanism, and its environmental impact in the Mixteca Alta region of Oaxaca, Mexico," she wrote.

She earned two degrees from the University of Texas at El Paso and a doctorate in 2003 from the University of Georgia, according to her resume.

At least 39 U.S. citizens were killed in 2010 in Ciudad Juarez, which has 1.3 million people. It is Mexico's most violent city, according to a report by state prosecutors.