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Man pleads guilty to kidnapping baby in February

WILLMAR -- A Willmar man pleaded guilty Wednesday to kidnapping an 8-month-old baby in February. Angel Esparza-Mendez, 23, also known as Angel Esparza and Pedro Xavier Rivera-Lopez, was charged in late February with kidnapping with the intent to ...

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Angel Esparza-Mendez

WILLMAR - A Willmar man pleaded guilty Wednesday to kidnapping an 8-month-old baby in February.

Angel Esparza-Mendez, 23, also known as Angel Esparza and Pedro Xavier Rivera-Lopez, was charged in late February with kidnapping with the intent to terrorize, a felony.

He was also charged with felony fifth-degree drug possession, but that charge was dismissed in a plea agreement. Esparza-Mendez has been held in the Kandiyohi County Jail in Willmar on $250,000 bail since his arrest Feb. 24.

He is to be sentenced on the kidnapping charge June 30.

According to court records, the child's mother told authorities that she came out of the shower the evening of Feb. 23 to find her ex-boyfriend Esparza-Mendez gone along with her baby girl. He is not the child's father.

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She told authorities she called him repeatedly through the night, but he said he would not bring her daughter back unless she agreed to return to their relationship.

He also threatened that if she spoke to police, he would take the baby to Mexico and she would not see the baby again.

The baby was later found safe Feb. 24 at the home of a third party in Willmar. Because Esparza-Mendez was believed to be dealing methamphetamine and to carry handguns, agents of the CEE-VI Drug and Gang Task Force went to the dairy farm where he worked and arrested him the afternoon of Feb. 24.

When interviewed at the jail, Esparza-Mendez allegedly admitted to texting threats to the woman and saying that she would not see her baby again. He also told police, who believed his name was Pedro Xavier Rivera-Lopez, that his real name was Angel Esparza-Mendez and that he was an undocumented immigrant.

Related Topics: CRIME
In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
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