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Ethan Couch, Texas 'Affluenza' Teen, To Stay In Mexico A Little Longer

Henry Romero
Cars drove past a building where Ethan Couch and his mother, Tonya, stayed in Puerto Vallarta, a beach resort town in Mexico.

Ethan Couch, the teen fugitive from Texas known for using an "affluenza" defense, has been granted a three-day delay in deportation.

An official with Mexico's Migration Institute told the Associated Press on Wednesday that Couch won a three-day court injunction. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he or she wasn't authorized to be quoted by name.

Couch and his mother were scheduled to fly back to Houston on Wednesday. It wasn't immediately clear if his mother, Tonya Couch, also would be granted a delay.

They were being held at immigration offices in Guadalajara.

Known as an "amparo," or protection, such appeals try to block a government action. In this case, Couch's attorneys are asking a judge to prevent authorities from deporting him or holding him without contact with lawyers, family members or visitors.

A federal judge has three days to rule on whether Couch's appeal is well-founded. If the judge rules in Couch's favor, there could be a trial process in Mexico that can last for weeks or even months.

Such appeals are unique in Mexico because they are precautionary. In this case, authorities would be prevented from moving forward with Couch's deportation until the issue of whether deportation would violate his rights is resolved.

North Texas law enforcement officials have worked with federal authorities for weeks to track down Couch and his mother. Following news of the deportation delay, Dee Anderson, the Tarrant County sheriff, expressed his displeasure via Twitter:


What happened in Mexico

A phone call for pizza led to their capture in the Mexican resort city of Puerto Vallarta.

Couch and his mother spent three days in a rented condo at a resort development. A police report says Couch, who’s 18, and his mother stayed at the Los Tules resort from Dec. 20 to Dec. 23, but were asked to leave because the condo's owner was coming in for Christmas.

While at the condo, they called out for a pizza, which tipped police off to their whereabouts. By the time police showed up on Dec. 28, the mother and son were gone.

But one of the condo's employees found them an apartment in Puerto Vallarta's less glitzy center. She told them where Couch and his mother were staying, and Mexican detectives located the apartment and staked it out.

The police report says that when the two appeared on the street, detectives approached them and asked them their names, and that the Couches showed an "evasive attitude."

The report says mother and son were "confusing about their names and mentioned they had no identification and no immigration documents."

Missing since early December

Couch was on juvenile probation after killing four people in a drunken-driving wreck.

Authorities began searching for the pair after Ethan Couch missed a mandatory appointment with his probation officer on Dec. 10.

Once returned to Texas, Couch will be held in a North Texas facility until a probation violation hearing Jan. 19.

Tonya Couch faces a two- to 10-year sentence if convicted of hindering apprehension.

Couch's attorneys did not immediately return calls for comment. On Tuesday, they said they hadn’t spoken with Ethan Couch and didn’t anticipate doing so until he arrives in Texas. 

KERA News contributed to this report.

Photo: Henry Romero/Reuters