Cesar Avila: Immigrant Smuggler Convicted of Holding Them for Ransom

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

A jury has convicted an immigrant smuggler of imprisoning his customers until their families coughed up $5,000 each.

Cesar Avila, 35, was found guilty on one count of hostage-taking conspiracy, four counts of hostage taking, one count of using a firearm during a crime of violence and four counts of aiding and abetting the harboring of illegal aliens.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says the undocumented immigrants were brought into the country for a fee of $5,000, and then held at gunpoint in a windowless Houston house until their families wired another $5,000 each.

One of those imprisoned managed to call 911 last August and tell police Avila "was armed with a handgun and had threatened them with death and they were in fear of their lives," prosecutors said.

Police tracked down the location in the 100 block of Jamaica.

"Once inside the location, several people, later identified as hostages, began pointing to Avila as the hostage taker and smuggler," prosecutors said.

They added:

The mother of one of the victims testified that she and her family had been contacted by smugglers demanding more money and threatening her son's life as well as the life of her family if the additional money was not paid. She was so frightened she contacted police who conducted surveillance to protect them. He daughter also testified that the family raised money by borrowing it from friends and sent as much money as they could via wire transfer to smugglers in Mexico.

Avila will be sentenced in October and faces life in prison.

Follow Houston Press on Facebook and on Twitter @HairBallsNews or @HoustonPress.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.