International News

Couple Who Kidnapped Their Kids in Florida and Fled To Cuba Will Be Sent Back Home

Looks like there's not going to be an Elian Saga Part Two, despite the best efforts of a fugitive couple who kidnapped their kids in Florida and fled to Cuba hoping to hide out. Authorities in Havana have just announced that the couple, Joshua and Sharyn Hakken, will be sent back to the United States to face charges.

Police say Joshua Hakken stole his sons, aged four and two, from his mother-in-law's house in Tampa last week, jumped into a boat with his wife and sailed for the communist island.

Hakken had lost custody of the kids, four-year-old Cole and two-year-old Chase, after a drug conviction in Louisiana; he later tried to take the kids back at gunpoint from a foster home.

Then, last Wednesday, Hakken forced his way into his mother-in-law's house, tied her up and took the boys. Police later found his truck abandoned in Madeira Beach.

The Hakkens showed up at Havana's Hemingway Marina today in their boat, Salty. Their goal was clear: Avoiding extradition back to the U.S. like scores of other American fugitives over the years.

Problem is, there wasn't much for Cuba to gain by sheltering the couple. It wouldn't do much to stick it in Uncle Sam's eye by letting a half-crazed dad keep his kids away from authorities. "There is no upside for Cuba," University of Miami Cuban expert Jaime Suchliki told the Miami Herald this morning.

Sure enough, Foreign Ministry official Johana Tablada tells the AP the government has already told the U.S. they'll be returning the couple.

Hakken faces multiple counts of kidnapping and child neglect.

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