Your craft can't even land on Earth, and the defectors explode on re-entry, or they get stuck in space forever and starve to death.
If you suspend reality, the answer you're looking for is:
Merely by initiating an unannounced landing you already have a headstart. I tried like to hell to find astronaut recovery times, but I couldn't track any down; which to me implies that pre-planning reduces the time so low that it's not even worth talking about. Recovery teams have already been positioned near the estimated landing zone to shorten recovery time. For the Apollo 11 mission, the recovery ship was only 7 miles away from splashdown (ctrl+f and type "7 miles"). If you land in a relatively remote region, it would probably take days to find you. If your team was comprised of experienced trackers, they could use their skills to avoid making tracks themselves, and possibly even avoid capture altogether.
EDIT: I just realized days later that I totally forgot to mention, de-orbiting only takes minutes, while it could take hours, even days, to reach your landing spot, depending on the pursuer's method of travel
If you are really serious in acknowledging the "sci" of sci-fi, then the real question you need to ask yourself is, can the escape pod even land on Earth in the first place. There some factors that need to be accounted for before you even worry about stealth (in order of appearance):
- Does the craft have enough fuel to de-orbit? An escape pod using "modern" technology, no matter how cutting-edge it is, would have one purpose, keeping the occupants alive as long as possible so they can be rescued. They would not waste space with engines, fuel storage, flight controls, and navigation. The ejection system might be able to de-orbit the craft, but what if it can't? You are either stuck in high orbit around Earth and will need rescue, or you are stuck in low earth orbit and need rescue, which, while the orbit does decay, it could take years and the occupants would be dead long before then
- Does the craft have systems to deal with re-entry heat? It's very easy to burn up when entering our atmosphere. Air resistance is not a joke, it will kill you quickly and easily
- Does the craft have lift surfaces to provide aerodynamic control, ie wings and ailerons? You might get away with having no propulsion, but unless you're really lucky, you will need these to land in a good place and avoid hitting things, which would kill you. Probably not, because "modern" early-tech escape pods would be little more than a pressurized can with a bunch of food in it, and a communications device, or perhaps even just a transponder
- Can the craft even survive crash landing
- Are the occupants skilled enough to disable the automatic SOS that is sure to activate immediately after the pod is engaged?
The operation you're describing would require a highly-specialized, purpose-built craft.