“Affluenza” teenager Ethan Couch who killed four people in 2013 was caught in Mexico along with his mother Tonya Couch. They were detained on Monday in Puerto Vallarta. Couch, now 18, had been the subject of an international manhunt after violating terms of his probation for his conviction on four counts of vehicular manslaughter. Mexico’s Jalisco state prosecutors’ office said in a statement that its agents had been working with American authorities via the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara since Saturday to track down and capture the pair. After their detention, they were handed over to Mexican immigration authorities for deportation.
Ethan and his mother vanished earlier this month after he failed to appear for a meeting with his probation officer. A warrant was then later issued for the teen’s arrest. Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said he believes the two fled in late November after a video surfaced appearing to show Couch at a party that included alcohol. Drinking would be considered a violation of Couch’s probation, which if revoked could result in the teen being sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.
The U.S. Marshals Service, which had issued a wanted poster promising a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to Couch’s whereabouts and capture, had no immediate comment. In June 2013 Ethan Couch, then 16, and living in the Fort Worth suburb of Burleson, was driving drunk and speeding on a dark two-lane road south of Fort Worth when he crashed into a disabled SUV off to the side, killing four people and injuring several others, including passengers in Couch’s pickup truck.
He pleaded guilty to four counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of intoxication assault causing serious bodily injury. Because of his age, he wasn’t certified as an adult for trial and a judge sentenced him in juvenile court to 10 years’ probation and a stint in a rehabilitation center. Couch’s case gained global notoriety after his lawyers claimed that their client suffered from “affluenza” after his well to do parents shielded him from the consequences of his actions.
Couch’s lawyers relied on a defense expert who argued that Couch’s wealthy parents coddled him into a sense of irresponsibility — a condition the expert termed “affluenza.” The condition is not recognized as a medical diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association, and its invocation drew widespread ridicule. The teenager is expected to be turned over to the Marshals Service, which has spent weeks searching for him. A spokesman for the service declined to comment Monday.