New information is available regarding the ongoing story of the so-called affluenza teen who fled Texas violating his probation in Dec. 2015. After Ethan Couch and his mother, Tanya, were detained in Puerto Vallarta Dec. 28, they were transported to the Central Immigration facility in Guadalajara for deportation hearings. The 18-year-old fugitive was able to win a deportation delay, according to a Jan. 1, 2016, report by CBS News. His appeal may lead to a trial, and the Couch family has hired a lawyer to fight deportation.
Meanwhile, the teen has been moved to a Mexico City detention center where he is awaiting a hearing to determine if he was rightfully detained. According to San Antonio attorney Javier Lopez de Obeso, there will be a determination made about anything done by Mexican immigration that could be considered a violation whether in due process or human rights. Lopez, who is also licensed to practice law in Mexico, stated, “If the immigration authorities didn’t act properly, he [Couch] can find a way to stay in Mexico for more time.”
Another Texas attorney, Aldo Salazar, who is also licensed to practice in Mexico, explained that Mexico and the U.S. have treaties and Mexico has to honor the warrant for Couch’s arrest in Texas. He told reporters, the teen will not be able to remain in Mexico indefinitely unless he applies for and is given asylum.
Nicolas Chavez, an immigration lawyer said, “Asylum is granted to those who can prove a well-founded fear of persecution. I’m not sure ‘affluenza’ would qualify.”
Chief Deputy Richard Hunter, of the U.S. Marshalls Service in South Texas, also stated a similar notion on Dec. 30, 2015. He stated the family has an attorney and “it seems to me that if they wanted to they could pay [the attorney] as much money as they want to drag this thing out as long as they want to,” according to CBS News.
Fernando Benitez is the attorney who is representing the teen, according to CBS News. Benitez is referred to as a high-profile rock star criminal defense lawyer. He has been hired to fight Couch’s deportation from Mexico.
The teen’s mother, who fled with him, was deported from Mexico. She was taken to Los Angeles, Calif. on Dec. 31, 2015. Tarrant County, in Texas, has charged her with hindering an apprehension. For this felony, she could face a prison term of two to 10 years. According to CBS News, “[she] is being held on a $1,000,000 bond.”
Mother and son were apprehended after using the telephone to place an order from Domino’s Pizza. They had moved from the high-end resort and were calling “a grungy Puerto Vallarta condo…home,” according to New York Daily Times.
There are unconfirmed reports that the pair had a gun in their possession at the time of their capture. Benitez told KTVT, no gun had been found during Couch’s detention. He pointed out, “That information [is] gossip from unconfirmed sources.”
According to the Dallas Morning News, the Tarrant County district attorney’s office would like to change the 18-year-old’s case to adult court. If successful, he could spend approximately 120 days in an adult facility, which would then be followed by 10 years probation.
While Ethan Couch’s fate is yet to be determined, he is in the custody of the Mexican immigration. It is up a court proceeding to determine if the teen will be returned to Texas. The lawyer, who the family has hired to fight deportation from Mexico, claims Couch had not committed any crimes in the country and questions why the Mexican police would pursue someone who was not a suspect in any crime in their country.
Below is the CBS video coverage of the Ethan Couch case.
By Cathy Milne
Edited by Shepherd Mutsvara
CBS News: “Affluenza” teen Ethan Couch hires high-profile Mexican lawyer
NBC News: Mom of ‘Affluenza’ Teen Ethan Couch Lands in U.S. from Mexico
New York Daily News: Domino’s pizza order led authorities to Ethan Couch; new video of ‘affluenza’ teen’s final hours surfaces at Mexican butcher
The Dallas Morning News: High-profile attorney in Mexico representing Ethan Couch
Featured Image Courtesy of CarlosVanVargas’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License