Las Cruces youth pastor accused of child sexual exploitation

Stephen Mendoza
Stephen Mendoza

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal authorities say a youth pastor from Las Cruces is facing child sexual exploitation and pornography charges.

They say 30-year-old Stephen Mendoza Arellano made his initial appearance Tuesday in federal court in Albuquerque.

He’s being held on a criminal complaint charging him with attempted production of child pornography, enticement of a child to engage in sexual activity, and travel to meet a minor to engage in sexual conduct.

Prosecutors say the alleged crimes occurred between May and August of this year and involved a 15-year-old girl in El Paso, Texas.

Arellano remains in federal custody pending a preliminary hearing and detention hearing, which have yet to be scheduled.

They say Arellano is an ordained minister for the Apostolic Assembly Church and serves as its District of New Mexico Youth president.