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Couple accused of abducting kids returned to Florida, placed under arrest

Early this morning a government plane returned Chase and Cole Hakken to U.S. soil after they were allegedly kidnapped by their parents, Joshua and Sharyn, from their maternal grandmother and taken to Cuba. Their parents have been charged in the kidnapping. NBC's Kerry Sanders reports.

The couple accused of running off with their two young sons, causing a massive search that ended in Cuba on Tuesday, has returned to the United States and been placed under arrest.

Joshua and Sharyn Hakken were arrested by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office in Florida and jailed on charges that included child neglect, kidnapping, and burglary, according to records maintained by the sheriff’s office.

Their two boys, ages 2 and 4, were expected to be returned to their grandparents on Wednesday. The boys' grandfather, Bob Hauser, thanked authorities for the wide-ranging, multi-state search that brought the two boys home.

“We are very appreciative of that, and it was very, very comforting to my wife and I to know that that was going on,” Hauser said.

Police say Joshua Hakken tied his mother-in-law up around 6:00 a.m. last Wednesday in Tampa and drove off with the two children, who were still in their pajamas. After ditching a black pickup truck that was later recovered by police, the Hakkens apparently boarded a blue 25-foot sailboat and left John's Pass Marina in Madeira Beach, Fla., bound for Cuba.

Baynews9 via AP

This frame grabbed image provided by Baynews9 shows Sharyn Hakken being processed for booking into the Hillsborough County Jail early Wednesday morning.

News cameras caught a bearded Joshua Hakken with his wife in Havana on Tuesday before authorities turned the couple and their kids over. The family did not appear to be in distress when spotted at the city’s Marina Hemingway, though a heavy Cuban security presence limited access to the docks.

The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Relations decided to turn the couple over to U.S. authorities early on Tuesday morning.

“After news reports surfaced of the Hakken couple’s association with a kidnapping case, the Cuban authorities communicated their presence in the country,” ministry official Johana Tablada said in a statement. The ministry exchanged information with the U.S. Interests Section in Havana “to try to guarantee the integrity and well-being of those minors,” he said.

The U.S. Interests Section in Havana acknowledged the safe return of two young children in a statement, but declined to go into specifics.

“Tonight, thanks to a joint effort of the Department of State, FBI, and U.S. Coast Guard, two U.S. citizen children are safely on their way home,” the Interests Section said in a statement.  “We would like to express our appreciation to the Cuban authorities for their extensive cooperation to resolve this dangerous situation quickly.”

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