MIAMI (CBS4) – The couple accused of kidnapping their two children and fleeing to Cuba has been booked into a Florida jail after being handed over to U.S. authorities.
Joshua and his wife Sharyn Hakken are at the Hillsborough County jail, facing several charges including kidnapping and child neglect. Joshua Hakken’s bond was set at $154,000. No bond information was listed for his wife.
Police said Joshua Hakken snatched his sons, 2-year-old Cole and 4-year-old Chase, from their maternal grandmother’s Tampa home after breaking in and tying her up.
“911 what’s your emergency,” asked the operator.
“I can’t think. My son in law just kidnapped my two chi– my two grandchildren. They’ve been in my state custody,” replied Patricia Hauser, the children’s maternal grandmother.
An Amber Alert was issued for the boys statewide.
The family fled to Cuba in a sailboat. Tuesday, Cuban authorities agreed to hand them over to U.S. officials.
“Right now we’re just looking forward to sitting with them, getting them in our arms and hugging them and being with them and getting them home where they will be safe again,” said the boys’ grandfather Bob Hauser as he anxiously awaited their arrival.
The boys were checked out by medical officials during their trip home and are back in the custody of their grandparents.
Authorities said the arrest and transport from Cuba to Tampa was uneventful.
“Local, state and federal agents that actually departed the Tampa area and went to Cuba and actually met the authorities there,” said Dave Couvertier, a special agent with the FBI.
“We would like to express our appreciation to the Cuban authorities for their extensive cooperation to resolve this dangerous situation quickly,” said a statement issued by the U.S. Interests Section Havana.
Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason, who used to work as Chief of Mission for U.S. Interests in Cuba, said he’s not surprised that the Cuban authorities cooperated with their U.S. counterparts.
“First of all they weren’t Cubans. Secondly they’re looking to beef up their public relations image with the U.S.,” said Cason. “I think had they been Cuban kids, had there been any Cuban ties, they would have invoked Cuban law and who knows what would have happened to them.”
Cason said what it boils down to is that there was nothing in this for Cuba.
“This probably was a no brainer for them. Usually if it’s a revolutionary, somebody that uses violence or even people that are involved in welfare fraud they keep them, they don’t expel them,” said Cason. “If there’s money involved and they can have the money from some scam in Florida and its deposited in Cuba they’ll let them stay.”
Cason added that he didn’t think this act of cooperation means anything in terms of U.S.-Cuba relations.
Hakken and his wife are describe as anti-government and were found to be in possession of guns and drugs last summer in Louisiana. The boys were placed in a foster home and Joshua allegedly showed up and tried to take them away at gunpoint. He lost custody and the kids were placed with their grandparents.
In addition to state charges, the Haaken’s also face federal charges for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.