Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Top Ten Fugitive Destinations


Assata Shakur
Assata Shakur

Notoriously at odds with the U.S., Cuba has granted political asylum to some of America's most wanted criminals. Among them is Assata Shakur, also known as JoAnne Chesimard, a political radical and former member of the Black Panther Party and the militant Black Liberation Army, who in 1979 broke out of a New Jersey prison where she was serving a life sentence for assault, armed robbery and aiding and abetting the murder of a New Jersey state trooper. Shakur lived in hiding in the New York area until fleeing to Cuba in 1984, where she was granted political asylum that same year. Extradition attempts have failed, and Shakur, classified by the FBI as a "domestic terrorist," continues to live in Cuba, where she has written and published several books.

Another notable activist who found asylum in Havana is Guillermo Morales, a member of a militant Puerto Rican separatist movement who lost nine fingers and an eye when a bomb he was assembling exploded in 1978. Facing 89 years in prison for illegal firearms possession, Morales managed to escape through an open window in the Bellevue Hospital ward where he was being kept under police custody by using a rope made of elastic bandages to rappel three stories.

Guillermo Morales
Guillermo Morales

PROS: With no extradition treaty between Cuba and the US, you'll have better chances of being able to comfortably enjoy the island's rich cuisine and culture, especially if you can pass for an anti-American revolutionary.

CONS: Cuba has sent back some fugitives, like Joseph Adjmi, who, 40 years after jumping bail during his 1963 mail fraud trial, was jailed in Cuba at the age of 71, and then delivered back to his native Miami, where he was sentenced to one year and one day in prison. Pedophiles are also out of luck in Cuba — mortgage finance expert Leonard Auerbach, 61, who faced charges of child sex tourism, production and possession of child pornography and engaging in illicit sexual acts in foreign places, fled to Cuba from California, hoping to find asylum there. Cuban officials, however, citing the grave nature of the charges against him, sent Auerbach back to the States, where he pleaded guilty to the child porn charge.

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