Mexico deports US 'affluenza' teen

Ethan Couch is seen before being driven to the airport for deportation.
Ethan Couch is seen before being driven to the airport for deportation.PHOTO: REUTERS

MEXICO CITY (AFP) - Mexican authorities on Thursday deported a US teenager known for using an “affluenza” defence in a fatal Texas drunk-driving accident, a month after the fugitive was caught in a resort.

The National Migration Institute released a video showing agents escorting a bearded Ethan Couch, 18, into a plane flying from Mexico City to Dallas, Texas, after he dropped an appeal against his deportation.

Couch, who had spent 28 days in a detention facility, will be met by US authorities in Dallas “because he faces several charges,” the institute said in a statement.

Couch and his mother, Tonya, were detained by Mexican authorities in the Pacific resort of Puerto Vallarta on December 28 following an international manhunt.

The young man had disappeared late last year after missing a mandatory meeting with his probation officer.

Couch apparently vanished after the emergence of a video showing him at a party taking part in a drinking game, which violated the terms of his probation.

Tonya Couch was deported from Mexico on Dec 31 and was promptly arrested by US authorities to face charges of hindering his apprehension.

Her son had lodged an appeal that could have delayed his deportation for months, but he dropped it on Jan 15.

In 2013, the teen crashed his pickup into a group of pedestrians in Texas and another vehicle, leaving four dead and several seriously injured.

Couch, who was 16 at the time, 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.

Couch pleaded guilty to intoxication manslaughter. Prosecutors had sought a 20-year prison term, but the court handed him a surprise sentence of mental health treatment and a decade of probation.