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Hakken Kidnapping: Authorities believe missing Fla. boys are now in Cuba

Cole and Chase Haaken AP Photo/Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

Cole and Chase Hakken
AP Photo/Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

(CBS/AP) TAMPA, Fla. - Authorities said Monday that they believe  two Florida boys who were allegedly taken by their parents from their grandparents' home are now in Cuba.

Pictures: Fla. man accused of kidnapping two boys

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office received information that the Hakken family arrived in the island nation and investigators are working with the FBI and the U.S. State Department to verify their reports.

It wasn't immediately clear what, if anything, authorities could do to retrieve the family from Cuba.

A State Department official told The Associated Press that the department is aware of the case and is in contact with local authorities. The official said a high priority is the welfare of U.S. citizens overseas, especially children "who are our most vulnerable citizens."

"The Department works with parents and foreign governments to resolve these difficult cases," the official said.

The sheriff's office said Joshua Hakken allegedly entered his mother-in-law's house north of Tampa early on April 3, tied her up and fled with his sons, 4-year-old Cole and 2-year-old Chase.

The boys had been living with their maternal grandparents since last year. Joshua Hakken lost custody last year after a drug possession arrest in Louisiana, and he later tried to take them from a foster home at gunpoint, authorities said. Authorities previously characterized the Hakkens as "anti-government."

Federal, state and local authorities were searching by air and sea for a boat Hakken recently bought. The truck that Hakken, his wife Sharyn and the boys were traveling in was found late Thursday, abandoned in a parking garage in Madeira Beach.

Authorities say they were looking up and down the entire Gulf coast from Pensacola to the Keys and the Intracoastal Waterway. An Amber Alert for the boys was issued in Florida, Louisiana and other states.

The Hillsborough Sheriff's office issued an arrest warrant for Joshua Hakken on charges of kidnapping and several other counts. 

Sharyn Hakken was not charged since her role in the alleged kidnapping is yet to be determined, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Complete coverage of the Hakken kidnapping on Crimesider

  • Crimesider Staff

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