Mexico deports mum of fugitive teen back to US

Ethan Couch and his mother Tonya, who was accused of helping her son flee the US while he was on probation in a drink-driving case. The pair were arrested on Monday night in a Mexican resort, where the teenager was found with his blond hair and beard
Ethan Couch (above) and his mother Tonya, who was accused of helping her son flee the US while he was on probation in a drink-driving case. The pair were arrested on Monday night in a Mexican resort, where the teenager was found with his blond hair and beard dyed black.PHOTOS: REUTERS
Ethan Couch and his mother Tonya, who was accused of helping her son flee the US while he was on probation in a drink-driving case. The pair were arrested on Monday night in a Mexican resort, where the teenager was found with his blond hair and beard
Ethan Couch and his mother Tonya (above), who was accused of helping her son flee the US while he was on probation in a drink-driving case. The pair were arrested on Monday night in a Mexican resort, where the teenager was found with his blond hair and beard dyed black.PHOTOS: REUTERS

MEXICO CITY • The Mexican authorities have deported American Tonya Couch, accused of helping her fugitive teenage son flee the United States despite his probation in a drink-driving case.

She was sent on a plane to the US, while her son Ethan, 18, remained in the custody of the National Migration Institute facility, an official from the agency said.

"She's gone. She was headed to Los Angeles," the official said on Wednesday, without giving more details about the flight.

Earlier, Ethan Couch's attorneys filed a petition in court to block his deportation process for 72 hours, but no such legal manoeuvre appears to have been made for his mother, who faces a US arrest warrant on charges of "hindering an apprehension", which is punishable by two to 10 years in prison.

The pair were arrested on Monday night in the Pacific resort of Puerto Vallarta, where the teenager was found with his blond hair and beard dyed black. The Couches tried to keep a low profile while they stayed at the popular getaway for American tourists. But they still attracted unwanted attention.

At one point, they left a gun in a hotel room drawer when they were changing rooms at the Los Tules hotel, according to two staff there. It was later returned to the duo.

In 2013, the teenager crashed his pickup into a group of pedestrians and another vehicle, leaving four dead and several others seriously injured. He was 16 at the time and had a blood-alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit for an adult.

The son of millionaire parents made headlines during his trial when a psychologist testifying on his behalf claimed he suffered from "affluenza". The term, coined from affluence and influenza, implied that financial privilege made him unable to understand the consequences of his actions.

The court sentenced him to mental health treatment and a decade of probation, a ruling seen as too lenient by many Americans.

Mr Richard Hunter, chief deputy marshal in Houston, said it probably would take at least two weeks for the Mexican courts to sort out the youth's deportation.

The Couches have enough cash to prolong the process, but "we do not have a timeframe", said Mr Hunter.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 01, 2016, with the headline 'Mexico deports mum of fugitive teen back to US'. Print Edition | Subscribe