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The Missing 'Affluenza' Teen and His Mom Have Been Detained in Mexico

Ethan Couch became known as the 'affluenza' teen during his trial for killing four people while driving drunk when a psychologist said he was so wealthy and spoiled he could not tell the difference between right and wrong.
December 29, 2015, 3:35pm
Photo via Fiscalia General del Estado de Jalisco

A wealthy Texas teen who disappeared after breaking his probation sentence for killing four people while driving drunk, has been taken into custody in Mexico and will be returned to the United States, Mexican authorities said on Tuesday.

Ethan Couch, 18, and his mother, Tonya Couch, were detained on Monday evening in the Pacific resort of Puerto Vallarta, the Jalisco State Attorney General's Office said in a statement.


Couch became known in the United States as the "affluenza" teen during his trial in juvenile court in 2013, when a psychologist said he was so wealthy and spoiled he could not tell the difference between right and wrong.

Couch, then 16, was speeding and had a blood-alcohol level of nearly three times the legal limit when he lost control of his pickup truck and fatally struck a stranded motorist on the side of the road and three people who had stopped to help. Several passengers riding in Couch's vehicle were hurt, including one friend who suffered permanent brain damage.

The court gave him 10 years probation for intoxication manslaughter, a sentence critics saw as far too light.

Related: 'Affluenza' Teen Ethan Couch and His Mother Get Delay in Extradition from Mexico

Couch and his mother, 48, disappeared earlier this month, prompting officials in Tarrant County, Texas, to issue a warrant for his apprehension.

The Mexican authorities said they had been working with the U.S. Marshals Service since Saturday to locate Couch and his mother.

The two were captured at the crossing of two streets near the Puerto Vallarta boardwalk in one of the less affluent parts of the resort. A police booking picture showed the previously blond teenager with dark hair.

The statement said the pair had been handed over to Mexican immigration authorities for being in the country without the proper permission which meant they could soon be returned to the United States.


Couch could reportedly face 10 years in jail if found guilty of violating his probation.

Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson told a news conference on Tuesday that a warrant would be issued for Tonya Couch for hindering an apprehension.

Anderson said last week it was possible Couch and his mother had fled the country after a video surfaced that appeared to show the teenager at a party where people were drinking. Drinking would be a violation of the terms of his probation.

The sheriff said the home they shared had been cleared of its contents. Their passports had been reported missing by the teen's father, who has cooperated with investigators.

U.S. Marshals had offered a $5,000 reward in exchange for his whereabouts.

Related: Mexico Arrests Alleged Drug Kingpin While He Was Getting Drunk and Playing Soccer

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