The FBI's longest wanted fugitive was arrested at JFK yesterday, where he had arrived from Cuba after spending more than four decades outside the feds' grasp. Louis Armando Peña Soltren, 66, was arrested at the same airport where his crime originated: On November 24th, 1968 he left the airport with two accomplices on a Pan Am 707 bound for Puerto Rico. During the flight they forced their way into the plane's cabin and ordered the crew to fly to Havana, threatening them with guns and knives quaintly smuggled on board in a diaper bag.
The hijacking was not unusual for the '60s; the Times notes that in 1968 alone, over 30 planes were hijacked or attempted to have been hijacked to Cuba, including two that day! Soltren's hijacked flight was escorted by Cuban Air Force fighter jets as it approached the island, and it's believed that the hijackers had connections to the Puerto Rican Movement for Liberation. (One of the hijackers had scrawled inside the plane, “Long live free Puerto Rico.") No one was injured. Soltren's accomplices were apprehended in the decade following the hijacking and sentenced to 15 years each; they've since been released from prison
An F.B.I. spokesman says Soltren had arranged his return with the F.B.I. and State Department because he wanted to see his family, including his wife, who lived in either Puerto Rico or Florida. Soltren will be arraigned today, bringing things full circle for Manhattan's undead DA Robert M. Morgenthau, who signed the original indictment when he was the 49-year-old United States attorney for the Southern District of New York.