Mother of Texas 'affluenza' teenager deported to Los Angeles: Mexico official

Tonya Couch is seen in an undated handout picture released by the Tarrant County Sheriff's Office.
Tonya Couch is seen in an undated handout picture released by the Tarrant County Sheriff's Office. PHOTO: REUTERS

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Wanted Texan teenager Ethan Couch's mother, who fled with her son to Mexico, has been deported from the country on a flight to Los Angeles, a Mexican immigration official said on Wednesday (Dec 30), while her son won a delay in his extradition.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said Mrs Tonya Couch was arriving in Los Angeles because there were no more flights available to Texas. In Los Angeles, she would be in the hands of the United States Marshals service, the official said.

The authorities in Texas have issued a warrant for Mrs Couch's arrest for hindering apprehension. If convicted, she could face two to 10 years in prison, Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said.

A spokesman with the US Marshals Service said she could not comment on prisoner movements.

Ethan remains in Mexico, where a legal injunction filed to delay his extradition is still being processed, the official added.

The mother and son had won a delay on Wednesday (Dec 30) to their extradition from Mexico after fleeing there as the US authorities investigated a possible violation of a probation deal that has kept the youth out of prison over a fatal drink-driving crash.

Ethan, 18, who is from a wealthy family, became known in the United States as the "affluenza" teen during his trial over a 2013 drink-driving crash that killed four people.

The duo were captured in the Mexican Pacific Coast city of Puerto Vallarta on Monday and had been due to be flown back to Houston on Wednesday, accompanied by US Marshals.

But the two filed an injunction to delay their extradition from Mexico, said Mr Ricardo Vera, a Mexican migration official in the state of Jalisco.

A judge in Mexico had up to 72 hours to consider the injunction, and the pair could still be deported within two weeks depending on developments, Mr Vera had said earlier in the day.

Sheriff Anderson said he was not surprised by the pair seeking to delay their return.

"They (the Couches) have done everything that they can so far to avoid being accountable, or avoid being brought to justice. Any roadblock they can put in the way, any hurdle, I fully expect that," he said in an interview.

Sheriff Anderson said that when Ethan Couch does arrive back in the United States, he would appear at a detention hearing in the juvenile system.

The judge could keep him in a juvenile detention facility or send him to an adult jail, he said.

During Ethan Couch's trial in juvenile court over the 2013 crash, a psychologist testified on his behalf that he was afflicted with "affluenza", and that he was so spoilt by his wealth that he could not tell the difference between right and wrong.

The diagnosis is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association and was has been widely ridiculed.

Ethan was convicted on four counts of intoxication manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years of drink and drug-free probation, which critics saw as leniency because of his family's wealth.

His flight to Mexico rekindled anger over that sentence.