MANILA, Philippines — An American woman who attempted to carry a 6-day-old baby out of the Philippines hidden inside a sling bag has been arrested at Manila’s airport and charged with human trafficking, officials said Thursday.
They said Jennifer Erin Talbot was able to pass through the airport immigration counter on Wednesday without declaring the baby boy but was intercepted at the boarding gate by airline personnel.
Talbot, from Ohio, was unable to produce any passport, boarding pass or government permits for the baby, airport officials said.
Clad in an orange detainee shirt and in handcuffs, Talbot, 43, was presented to reporters in Manila on Thursday. She kept her head low and appeared at times to be on the verge of tears. She did not issue any statement.
Talbot had planned to board a Delta Air Lines flight to the United States with the baby, airport officials said.
“There was really an intention to hide the baby,” immigration official Grifton Medina said by telephone.
After discovering the baby, airline staff called immigration personnel, who arrested Talbot at the airport. She was later turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation and the baby was given to government welfare personnel.
The investigation bureau said Talbot presented an affidavit at the airport, allegedly from the baby’s mother, giving consent for the baby to travel to the U.S., but it had not been signed by the mother.
Officials said no government travel approval had been issued for the baby, prompting them to file human trafficking charges against her. The charges carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
U.S. Embassy officials have been notified of her arrest.
Officials are searching for the baby’s parents, who have been charged under a child protection law.