Boy grabbed by 425-pound gang member

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SANTA ANA (CNS) – A convicted gang member accused of grabbing a 10-year- old boy — and sniffing him — on his way to soccer practice was charged today with false imprisonment.

Victor Joseph Espinoza, 55, of Santa Ana, was also charged with street terrorism and he faces sentencing enhancements for committing a crime for the benefit of a gang and a prior strike conviction for street terrorism in 2007, said Farrah Emami of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

About 7:20 p.m., Thursday, the boy and his 19-year-old cousin were walking to the child’s soccer practice on a bike trail by Delhi Park when Espinoza asked the alleged victim if he wanted to see the defendant’s gang tattoo, Emami said.

The 425-pound suspect is accused of grabbing the boy and sniffing his arm, Emami said.

The boy managed to get loose as his cousin shouted at Espinoza, Emami said. The two then ran to the soccer field at the park and told the boy’s soccer coach about the incident, Emami said.

The coach caught up with Espinoza and tackled him, but Espinoza managed to get free, ran away and hid behind a tree, Emami said. Santa Ana police used a helicopter to find Espinoza, Emami said.

Investigators have not determined what motivated Espinoza to allegedly grab the boy, Emami said.

Espinoza, who is being held on $100,000 bail, was scheduled for an arraignment today. Prosecutors will be seeking $250,000 bail.

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