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Wednesday
Apr102013

Parents Who Fled to Cuba with Kidnapped Kids in US Custody

Hillsborough County Sheriff(TAMPA, Fla.) -- The FBI traveled to Cuba late Tuesday night to pick up the American parents, who are accused of fleeing to the island country from Florida with their kidnapped sons, and bring all four back to the U.S., according to authorities.

The airplane transporting the Hakken family from Cuba back to the U.S. landed at Tampa International Airport shortly before 3 a.m. ET Wednesday, according to ABC News affiliate WFTS-TV.

Joshua Hakken, 35, his wife Sharyn Hakken, 34, will be booked at the Hillsborough County jail, authorities said at an early morning news conference hours before the plane landed.  Their two young sons, Cole, 4, and Chase, 2, will be returned to their grandparents.

Authorities say both parents are facing kidnapping, child interference with child custody and neglect charges.  In addition to those state charges, Joshua Hakken is facing grand theft auto, false imprisonment, battery and burglary.  He is also facing a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

The children had been living with their maternal grandparents in Tampa, Fla., until last Wednesday, when authorities allege Joshua Hakken barged into the home, tied up his mother-in-law, Patricia Hauser, and fled with his sons in her car.

The children's grandparents, Bob and Pat Hauser, were at the press conference Wednesday morning and said they had a phone conversation with their grandsons shortly before they departed for the U.S.

"Please continue to respect our privacy as we reunite with our precious grandchildren.  Right now we're just looking forward to sitting and getting them in our arms and hugging them and being with them getting them home where they will be safe again," Bob Hauser said.

Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee said the kids appear fine.

"Our understanding is that they're doing well and we're looking at them from a medical standpoint and all that will be checked out," Gee said.

The Hakkens arrived in the Hemingway Marina in Havana on April 7 aboard their sailboat, Salty Paw, under unfavorable sailing conditions, according to a statement from the Cuban Foreign Ministry.

The next day, Cuban officials said they became aware the Hakkens were wanted in an abduction case and contacted U.S. officials in Havana.

Cuba does not have an extradition treaty with the United States, however the Cuban Foreign Ministry said it remained in frequent diplomatic communication with U.S. Interests Section in Havana regarding the situation.

The Hakkens lost custody of their sons last year after Slidell, La., police found them in a hotel room with their boys surrounded by weapons, drugs and "acting in a bizarre manner."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio