So if you’ve got children and maybe you’re gonna go out on your own and take the kids somewhere to hide them from whomever they belong, you’re not gonna want to take them to Cuba.  Too hot a diplomatic potato for that country to handle, which is what a Florida couple has just learned.

According to the Ventura County Star, a Florida couple who last week allegedly abducted their two children in a custody dispute and fled to Cuba by sailboat were returned to the United States and jailed on kidnapping and child neglect charges.  The couple, Joshua Michael Hakken and Sharyn Patricia Hakken, was booked into the Hillsborough County jail in Tampa, where the ordeal allegedly began.  Their 2 and 4-year-old boys were also returned by Cuban authorities, and placed in the care of the Florida Department of Children and Families.

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Web site, the Hakkens have also been charged with false imprisonment, interference with custody, burglary of a dwelling with assault or battery and grand theft of a motor vehicle.  Additionally, they face charges of fleeing the country to avoid prosecution.  Statements made by the sheriff’s office indicate the father entered his mother-in-law’s Forida house last Wednesday, tied her up and fled with the boys.  The family of four then surfaced in Cuba aboard the sailboat Hakken had purchased 2 weeks earlier.

Although Cuba does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S., Cuban officials appeared intent on deflecting this live grenade as quickly as possible, and they immediately informed U.S. authorities of the country’s decision to turn over the couple and their children.

Last year, Joshua Hakken had lost custody of his sons after a drug possession arrest in Louisiana.  Later, he had tried taking the children from a foster home at gunpoint.  At this point, it is not clear where the children will be placed.  Lousiana is the ultimate decider of where the children will live, and it appears likely they will be placed back with their grandmother in Florida.

Cuba has been known to harbor U.S. fugitives in the past, however, most of those cases date back to the 1960s and 70s, when the island was known as a refuge for members of militant groups.  Dozens of Cuban Medicare fraud fugitives have also tried to avoid prosecution by escaping to the island.  But Cuba has been cooperating with U.S. officials in recent years, and the Hakkens can now attest to this.

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