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Mother says gay son tortured, killed in Honduran prison after illegal deportation

MATT REYNOLDS | Courthouse News Service
Friday, December 13, 2013

LOS ANGELES — The United States illegally deported a gay asylum-seeker to months of torture and death in a Honduran prison, his mother claims in court.

Ana Lopez sued the United States and Immigration and Customer Enforcement “Officer Garcia” for the death of her son, Nelson Javier Avila-Lopez, in Federal Court.

Family photoNelson Avila Lopez with his sisters.

Family photo
Nelson Avila Lopez with his sisters.

Lopez claims her son had a stay of deportation, through counsel, but ICE deported him anyway to Honduras, where he was “thrown, without formal charges, into the notorious Comayagua prison … where he suffered unspeakable torture for nearly four months alongside the sadistic criminals that he sought to escape.”

Her son died in Comayagua prison on Valentine’s Day 2012, in a fire that killed 357 other prisoners with him, his mother says.

Lopez, who is under temporary protected status, says her son was 17 when he fled to the United States after seeing the Central American gang, Mara 13, kill his friend and another man.

Nelson fled Honduras in 2008 after gang members told authorities that Nelson was behind one of the killings. Nelson feared for his life, she says, because gays in Honduras face persecution and death.

Nelson applied for asylum in the United States but missed his court hearing because his lawyer did not tell him when to show up in court, his mother says. An immigration judge him deported in March 2010 when failed to appear.

ICE arrested him and put him in deportation proceedings. A new attorney filed a motion to reopen his case, placing an automatic stay on his removal; defendant Garcia was the deportation officer.

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ICE knew Nelson had a stay of deportation when his case was reopened, his mother says. But on Oct. 19, 2011, ICE deported him anyway.

Upon arriving at a Honduras airport in ICE shackles, Honduran authorities arrested him without charge and threw him into Comayagua prison, his mother says.

“In the last four months of Nelson’s life in this prison, Nelson was brutally tortured, including being held down to be tattooed on each arm – one by the Maras and the other by a rival gang – forever marking him as a traitor for all inmates to see,” his mother says. “Nelson, as young but brave as he was, refused to tell his mother the horrible conditions he encountered, but asking for money from her so that he could pay off the gangs so that he could use the prison bathroom.”

Nelson burned to death in prison just before his 21st birthday.

“Nelson’s charred body was found clinging to another inmate. His mother flew back to Honduras to claim the body, but it could only be identified through DNA testing,” she says.

Lopez seeks damages for negligence, wrongful death and due process violations.

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135 more reader comments:

  1. thats disgusting

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 8:59pm
  2. Makes me sick!

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:01pm
  3. so sad

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:01pm
  4. Shame on the United States

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:01pm
  5. This is horrific. I hope she successfully presses charges. :(

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:01pm
  6. This is Sad why a mother have to lost her son that way they should do and eye for and eye
    justice ? Justice ..

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:02pm
  7. Unfortunately one of many such stories that never hear about. This is why the Immigration system has to be revamped completely.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:02pm
  8. My cousin was deported even though he is a US born citizen. 10 years of being stranded in a foreign country he had no knowledge of, the government realized they made a mistake -.-

    Replied on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 2:27am
  9. Sigh. I’m so ashamed of this country. We need to pull our heads out of our egotistical asses and start operating with decency and accountability.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:02pm
  10. This is beyond human tragedy and another reason the United States needs to have in place compassionate immigration laws that are not racist or homophobic to protect people like this young man…LOVE AND COURAGE TO HIS FAMILY.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:02pm
  11. Appalling!

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:02pm
  12. We failed him miserably. This is heartbreaking

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:03pm
  13. Outrageous !!

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:04pm
  14. this just makes me want to cry so bad. :’(

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:04pm
  15. Very Sad Indeed!!!

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:04pm
  16. A tragic set of circumstances that ended in the worst way. Sad that even in American prisons there is an ongoing, unchecked aggression few citizens care to hear about or rally against. Prison Rape statistics in America’s penal system are staggering and unsettling…as are the numbers of beatings and killings that happen within it. Most “good people” seem to put such faith in broken justice that they are led to justify these ongoing atrocities, paid for by tax payers, as “par for the course of being criminally prosecuted”.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:07pm
  17. Dven Hologram, yes, you are right. The taxpayers of this country are so damned complacent about any bad thing that happens in this country UNLESS it directly affects them personally. That's even the way most people vote. Disgusting and appalling. I am so ashamed.

    Replied on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:43pm
  18. He was wanted on murder charges in Honduras? He missed his Immigration Hearing here in the U.S.? Uh, is there any reason he should not have been deported?

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:08pm
  19. He was never formally charged and the only evidence was the word of a gang member who was on the hook for that murder. He also had a stay on his deportation, pending more hearings. Do you have a reading comprehension problem?

    Replied on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:14pm
  20. Do you even know the definition of "charged"? It's quite different than "Convicted." No, I do consider myself quite good at comprehending things. For one, I don't read one article from a politcally-biased new source and take that as the absolute truth. I do, however, have a problem with ignorant, bleeding-heart liberals who want to help every single person wipe their ass with no regards to our own, domestic issues. Would you like Honduras providing asylum to a U.S. national who was wanted by U.S. authorities for murder? Have you had ANY sort of experience with ex-cartel or South American gang members? They'll come here with more blood on their hands than many of our criminals have ever even seen, and then they'll play the sad puppy dog face and cry fowl when someone implicates them in their past crimes. Just because the kid was gay doesn't provide a get out of jail free card. If anyone should be sued, it should be the Honduran Government for having an altogether crappy prison that ultimately caused the boy's death along with a couple hundred other inmates that all of you seem to have forgotten. I'm sure out of all of them, this boy wasn't the only one who cried innocence.

    Replied on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:21pm
  21. Settle down, Joshua. You're being quite a hypocrite. You don't want to believe what the article says, yet you speak as if you know what happened. Were you there? If he wasn't even given a fair trial in Honduras over the murder, then we can't know the truth. Bottom line, if everything the mom says is true then this is a horrific situation that shouldn't have happened.

    Replied on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:31pm
  22. I can’t hit LIKE on his one…so sad! Why does this have to happen? I wish I could have helped the kid. He didn’t deserve to die like that!

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:10pm
  23. how awful. :( God rest his tormented soul and I pray the mother finds peace and justice for her son. sooo sad.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:11pm
  24. So sad!!!

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:14pm
  25. I live in Honduras thank God in a city which are more liberal than the rural areas,sadly there is still a lot of hate towards gays.Honduras btw is the only Central American country with a constitutional amenthment.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:14pm
  26. Yeah I know I was just thinking about that as I read you were from Honduras.

    Replied on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 12:31am
  27. So glad I am Canadian and not American. I will never try to seek a green card into the states. The whole American Federal Government is unfair, cruel and dumb lol

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:19pm
  28. What are you talking about? Canada is heading that way. You're not any better than we are. Your country went from being the 5th most visited to the 17th spot. Why? Visa restrictions and making it harder for people. Don't brag when your country is in the same spot.

    Replied on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:33pm
  29. Robyn, you have a lot of nerve insulting the 'FREE' United States. Yes, it is run by corrupted morons and greed but look at Socialist Canada. Don't you love that 70% of your wages go for the lazy fucks that refuse to work in your country? And Canada is well known as a gateway legally for any terrorist to enter North America. Just shut up Canadians, you have no right to say anything about the US. You are much more like Russia than the US by far.

    Replied on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:50pm
  30. Heriberto, have you ever been to Canada? Because it's in no way, shape, or form like the US. If not, then your opinion is invalid.

    Replied on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 10:01am
  31. Poor kid :(

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:19pm
  32. When money talks, no one listens

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:28pm
  33. Just too horrible.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:28pm
  34. It’s all perfectly reasonable because homosexuality is a sin. That’s right, torture someone and kill them because you think gay sex is gross. Mind boggling!

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:29pm
  35. Vigorously support the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission — this organization is heroic — and could do so much more, with others joining me to support it.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:30pm
  36. Very sad story! :( prayers for his family.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:31pm
  37. Horrific and barbaric.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:32pm
  38. Unfortunate yes… illegal deportation? If not here legally, then legal to send back….

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:32pm
  39. wow thats fucked up

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:34pm
  40. I am so sorry to hear that. It sickens me to even think about hating someone for ANY reason. Love is love. God will deal with that torturer one day. I am praying for him and all the loved ones left behind.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:35pm
  41. So ofl…

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:37pm
  42. That’s the United States for you. Typical conservative bullshit. Sorry for your loss. I will pray for you as you grieve the loss of you son at the hands of the United States.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:38pm
  43. Sad

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:40pm
  44. Omg this is so terrible r.i.p to the lovely boy hope his mother find some peace and justice for her son this is so bad why cant people live how they want to gay,straight whatever ffs this makes me sick bring out the justice system and kill the homophobic bastards

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:41pm
  45. bless you.. rest in peace.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:51pm
  46. peace on earth people,some lust for blood and injustice,and its wrong :(

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:52pm
  47. :(…. Algun dia la sociedad comprendera q ser diferente es parte de ser humanos!!!!

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:53pm
  48. That is so sad, sorry to hear that I hope she wins

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:58pm
  49. I don’t understand why everyone is always in an up roar about people who are gay. It’s not interfearing in their lives. I just say let your kids be who they want to be. I am not gay but I have many friends who are and I am 100% behind them and their rights.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 10:03pm
  50. Sigh. Extremely saddening…

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 10:04pm
  51. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about those responsible for his deportation being religious extremists.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 10:16pm
  52. Heriberto yes Canada is better. That’s it, we are better. So what about the 17th spot. We are an exclusive country and don’t want to just give free and easy access to our country. We have the best scenery around hands down. From the arctic, to the west coast mountains, the land of the living skies through the prairies, the worlds biggest lakes…it can go on and on. Why would we increase our population to other people so easily? That will only increase a lot of many things that we don’t want in Canada. But I give props to the people who continue to have immigration access to our Country because we treat them good, not like criminals and terrorists.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 10:19pm
  53. Oh…my…God… :-(

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 10:58pm
  54. Obama when are you going to save these poor souls seeking refuge? This poor family…

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 11:06pm
  55. So sad! I hope his death is not in vain.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 11:10pm
  56. :(

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 11:13pm
  57. May his soul rest in peace

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 11:15pm
  58. For your information nobody voted in a crackhead. He was caught doing so after getting voted in. You best believe he ain’t gonna be voted back in that’s for damn sure. And regarding the wages, no you’re wrong. It’s 16.5-17% of our wages that get taxed. What are you talking about, out health care system is one of the best besides some parts of Europe where there is also universal health care set in place. Hahaha only in Canada do we have terrorist. Yep, you’re totally right. No way, we are nothing like those Russian, homophobic bastards. The best governments help out their people, have high stakes and work hard for all that we have. So what we pay extra taxes for welfare, healthcare and education. It will benefit us as a nation in the future. Canadians show everybody else what justice is, and what caring is all about.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 11:24pm
  59. But all in all, RIP to the poor boy he didn’t deserve this.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 11:25pm
  60. Heartbreaking.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 11:42pm
  61. Awful.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 11:43pm
  62. An average of 1,100 undocumented workers are incarcerated and deported every day by this awful administration. It’s so heartbreaking to see these families divided just so the prison industry can make a good profit. #Not1More

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 12:00am
  63. Messed up

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 12:34am
  64. It is a sad story and may he rest in peace. Blame is not on U.S he was given a court date to continue on the process to be legally present and didn’t make it. The lawyers do not get the notices to appear before the court it is mailed to the person and address provided buy that person that . Many people here that are given court dates to plead there case don’t care to show up even after being advised if they don’t show up they will be ordered deported in absentia. May the family find peace blaming others will not change the present.

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 12:40am
  65. So, so sad.

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 12:43am
  66. So so sad…and yes unfortunately we don’t hear many of these stories….poor young man…..and his family…

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 12:50am
  67. Canada sucks…..you can keep all your scenery and your socialist government. …..and keep the terrorists to…If you like take in people from other countries so much how about we send you all the illegals we have in the US….

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 12:56am
  68. Canada is a much more peaceful country than the US. If anything, the US sucks.

    Replied on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 9:59am
  69. Terriblel!

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 1:17am
  70. So Sad..

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 1:48am
  71. That is just sad!!

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 1:50am
  72. You Americans complain too much lol

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 1:59am
  73. :( y honduras thats wer I was born!!!

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 2:26am
  74. We need a reset button for the Government, Or we can all come together and take it down. The US government is to narrow and closed minded!

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 2:46am
  75. what are straight people so afraid of–

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 2:55am
  76. WTF

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 3:23am
  77. I am so sorry for your loss!!!!!!!!!!! This is one of the many reasons I despise our government.

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 3:28am
  78. Why doesn’t she go after the Honduran government and the their prison system ? Why not blame them for what was allowed to happen and the fire that killed 300 plus others? Sounds like another ploy to get rich off the US GOV, sickens me to see these types of cases going before our courts Mario Ocana

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 3:28am
  79. The US Government has an will always do this, he was granted a stay but, the government refused to acknowledge it. But it’s because this young man was gay that they decided to deport him it happens all the time being gay is not easy and with it comes many consequences, and they treat us like we are Second class, but it’s no one wants to admit it. The US Government is to blame as much as is The Honduras Government but that would of happen regardless in Honduras but that poor guy could of still been alive if it wasn’t for all the discrimination a lot not all, the US Government law enforcers do. Mind you this is my opinion based on what I have experience.

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 3:42am
  80. the blood can never be removed from their hands.

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 4:05am
  81. hope she wins the case…

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 5:13am
  82. It breaks my heart to hear stories like this! GOD bless him & his family!

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 5:16am
  83. :’(

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 5:28am
  84. how so very sad…

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 5:44am
  85. this is very sad,sorry for your loss

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 6:12am
  86. Honduras and Belize are the 2 negatives in Central America.

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 6:20am
  87. I was borned there, how terrible! I’m glad I’ve never been illegal.

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 6:20am
  88. As much as I sympathize, wrongful death is probably not an accurate charge that this mother can use, because she’ll have to cast quite a wide net to account for everything that went wrong. The central issue of this case is immigration, with LGBTQ rights more tangential, though no less important.

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 6:40am
  89. rip :(

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 6:49am
  90. damn savages.

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 7:40am
  91. geez, so senseless

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 8:02am
  92. This is outrageous!

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 8:53am
  93. my heart goes out to her & family

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 9:51am
  94. so sad!

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 10:08am
  95. this is horrible!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 11:06am
  96. Sickening to read, tragedy

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 12:46pm
  97. Heartbreaking indeed! This prison sounds like a modern-day Auschwitz.

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 1:33pm
  98. What the hell is wrong with ICE. Cant they get their act together.

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 2:20pm
  99. so sad.. the evil of mans’ mind.

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 3:04pm
  100. Awful. This breaks my heart.

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 3:32pm
  101. This is horrible, how can this be allowed to happen in our day and time. I pray that they young man did not have to suffer long and I pray for strength and support for his dear, loving Mother and famly who are clearly suffering an unbelievable pain. In Jesus’s name, I pray he will be welcomed home and justice is served on the perpetrators of this atrocity. Thank God we have the many freedoms we enjoy despite the constant stream of haters who continue to hide behind free speech and their freedom to worship, forcing their beliefs on others using plain bullying tactics.

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 4:25pm
  102. The USA immigration system is despicable and inhuman!!

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 4:38pm
  103. appaling.. just the face of indifference……

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 4:48pm
  104. awful …

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 6:42pm
  105. How terrible!!!

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 6:50pm
  106. Mi corizon esta con la familia de Nelson. Hate crimes are human rites violations!!!

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 7:33pm
  107. Still amazes me the hate people can hold for anyone that isn’t just like them. Waiting for EVERYONE to celebrate diversity and how much richer it makes our world!

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 8:24pm
  108. How sad. Not surprising, though, considering how inhumane and cruel Honduran prisons are.

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 9:13pm
  109. Horrible

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 10:02pm
  110. triste

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 10:04pm
  111. Shocking story so sad this had to happen.

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 10:06pm
  112. man I just cried reading this.

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 10:10pm
  113. So sad and wrong and I hope that people will grow up and let them be who they are and let them be happy and have equal rights because they deserve them

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 10:12pm
  114. I’m so sorry to hear this mother lost her son….

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 10:17pm
  115. So sad.

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 10:25pm
  116. Travesty against humanity….I am disgusted by the American government and it’s inhuman rights campaign against asylum-seekers…especially gays and people from poor countries…..LOVE AND COURAGE TO THIS MOTHER AND THE FAMILY

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 10:26pm
  117. Makes me grateful to live in America despite some of the discrimination. The poor guy suffered through and through by the corrupt govt and the MS13. I pay respects to the family.

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 10:27pm
  118. Corrupt attorney probably was paid. And so to speak- not a first time….and government knows this….glad someone makes this a case because poor boy didn’t deserve any of this he had to suffer. :( I hope his mom (and family) can find a peace and this boy’s poor soul too….

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 10:33pm
  119. ILLEGALS HAVE NO RIGHTS THEY ARE CRIMINALS

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 10:47pm
  120. Way to go America. Oh well not first, and not the last.

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 11:00pm
  121. i’m so sorry

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 11:11pm
  122. Que pena…y tanta ignorancia..es peor ser un acesino q gay..

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 11:31pm
  123. This really makes me mad…and sad. :( :’(

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 11:56pm
  124. I’m be praying for you all!God bless.

    Posted on Sunday, December 15, 2013 at 12:33am
  125. Australian Law in general – will hardly change – deterred / marked by propaganda of “OLD” Script that is 100yrs – BYGONE! – OUTDATED.

    Posted on Sunday, December 15, 2013 at 1:04am
  126. Horrible. Horribile. Death is so ultimate, so final. It always makes tears well in my eyes.

    Posted on Sunday, December 15, 2013 at 2:18am
  127. That’s How These Foriegn Countries Are !

    Posted on Sunday, December 15, 2013 at 3:23am
  128. Too sad. RIP.

    Posted on Sunday, December 15, 2013 at 5:17am
  129. Horrific!

    Posted on Sunday, December 15, 2013 at 8:40am
  130. Awful. Blood is on US hands. We had a chance to stop this and deported him anyway. Shame.

    Posted on Sunday, December 15, 2013 at 12:42pm
  131. -.- shame, shame and shame…

    Posted on Sunday, December 15, 2013 at 5:33pm
  132. To sad, still in tears

    Posted on Sunday, December 15, 2013 at 7:45pm
  133. Will peace and complete acceptance always allude human beings…..I still have hope….clinging on to it….:-)

    Posted on Sunday, December 15, 2013 at 10:25pm
  134. the horror. so sad.

    Posted on Sunday, December 15, 2013 at 11:04pm
  135. What a shame.

    Posted on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 2:40am