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Photo: AP (left), Jalisco Prosecutors Office (right) via New York Post

Fugitive ‘affluenza’ teen detained in Mexico along with mother

A Texas teen who was found responsible for a drunk driving accident in 2013 that left four people dead was detained in Mexico along with his mother.

Ethan Couch and his mother, Tonya Couch, were detained in the Pacific resort city of Puerto Vallarta at 6 p.m. CT Monday, according to Tarrant County district attorney Sharen Wilson.

Couch, now 18, was given some leniency in 2013 when his lawyers argued that he had “affluenza,” or psychological problems caused by his family’s wealth, The New York Times reports. But he had been the subject of an international manhunt after he violated his probation terms for his conviction on four vehicular manslaughter counts.

A spokesman for the United States Marshals Service said that couch and his 48-year-old mother were being held by authorities in Mexico. “We’re working to get him back up here,” Oney said, “but we don’t know when.”

After they had been detained, they were handed off to Mexican immigration authorities to prepare for deportation.

Mexico’s Jalisco state prosecutors’ office said that its agents had teamed up with American authorities and had been searching for the pair since Saturday, USA Today reports.

It was realized that Couch and his mother were gone a few weeks ago after he failed to show up for his probation meeting on Dec. 10. It was then that a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said that he thinks the two may have fled in late November after a video spread displaying Couch at a party with alcohol. Drinking would be in violation of Couch’s probation, which if revoked could lead to up to 10 years in jail for the teen.

It is unclear whether Tonya Couch will be facing any charges. The U.S. Marshals Service, which had released a wanted poster that pledged to reward up to $5,000 for any information leading to Couch’s whereabouts, did not comment on Tonya’s situation.

ABC News released a photo of Couch, courtesy of the Jalisco State prosecutor’s office, that showed the usually blond teen with darker hair and a dark brown beard.

In June 2013, Couch was 16 and living in the Fort Worth suburb of Burleson. He was speeding and driving drunk on a two-lane road at night when he crashed into an SUV on the side of the road. The crash killed four people and injured several, including passengers in his truck.

He pleaded guilty to four counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of intoxication assault causing serious bodily injury, according to USA Today. Since he was only 16, he was not certified as an adult for trial and was sentenced to some time in a rehabilitation center and 10 years’ probation in juvenile court.

If the information of the case had stopped here, then it may have just been another drunk driving case gone unnoticed. However, it gained national attention when his lawyers claimed Couch suffered from “affluenza” after his well-off parents shielded him from consequences of his actions.

Couch’s lawyers argued that Couch’s wealthy parents “coddled him into a sense of irresponsibility–a condition the expert termed ‘affluenza,'” according to the Associated Press. The condition, which the American Psychiatric Association does not call a medical diagnosis, racked up some serious ridicule.

Anderson, who was a crucial part of the decision not to incarcerate Couch, said that Couch had never showed any sort of remorse for his actions and that his case built up more rage than any other he encountered in his career.

About Meredith Rodefer

Meredith Rodefer
Meredith Rodefer is a freelance writer, who focuses on anything from lifestyle blogging to hard news, and dancer. Beyond Youth Independent, she has written for sites such as Natmonitor.com, CheekyChicago.com and FamilyFocusBlog.com. Contact Meredith: meredith.rodefer@youthindependent.com