ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Authorities say a former youth minister from Las Cruces has pleaded guilty in a sexual exploitation case.
Federal prosecutors say 30-year-old Stephen Mendoza Arellano entered a plea agreement that recommends a prison sentence of 57 to 71 months followed by 15 years of supervised release.
A sentencing hearing hasn’t been scheduled yet.
Homeland Security Investigations agents arrested Arellano last October and he has been in custody since then.
According to a criminal complaint, Arellano traveled from Las Cruces to El Paso, Texas, with the intention of having sexual contact with the girl who was 15 when he began contacting her in May 2017.
At the time of his arrest, Arellano was an ordained minister of the Apostolic Assembly Church and serving as the Church’s District of New Mexico Youth President.