Officials say an American woman attempted to bring a 6-day-old baby from the Philippines into the United States by keeping it hidden inside a sling bag she was carrying. The woman was arrested at an airport in Manila and charged with human trafficking.
Jennifer Erin Talbot managed to pass through the airport’s immigration counter on Sept. 4 without declaring the baby but was later intercepted at the boarding gate by airline personnel, officials said a day later.
Airport officials say the 43-year-old Ohio woman wasn’t able to produce key documents for the baby boy, such as a passport, boarding pass, or government permit. They said Talbot had planned to board a Delta Air Lines flight to the United States with the concealed baby.
Talbot was wearing an orange detainee shirt and handcuffs when presented to reporters in Manila on Sept. 5. She kept her head low and wiped away tears at times. She refused to comment to reporters.
“There was really an intention to hide the baby,” immigration official Grifton Medina told The Associated Press.
Talbot hadn’t been issued any government travel approval for the baby, which prompted officials to file human trafficking charges against her. Talbot could face a maximum penalty of life in prison under the charges. The Philippines’ National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said she also violated at least two other laws on child abuse, kidnapping, and illegal detention.
Airline staff said they called immigration personnel after they discovered the baby. Immigration authorities then arrested Talbot at the airport. Later Talbot was handed over to the NBI, and the baby was turned over to government welfare personnel.
According to the NBI, Talbot presented an affidavit, allegedly from the baby’s mother, who was identified as Maricris Dulap, to give consent for the baby to travel to the United States. However, the affidavit was not signed by Dulap.
U.S. Embassy officials were notified of Talbot’s arrest and told Philippine authorities that she has no criminal record in the United States, NBI official Manuel Dimaano said.
The U.S. Embassy in the Philippines couldn’t be reached for comment.
It remains unclear what Talbot had planned to do with the baby. Talbot told officials she only wanted to give the baby boy “a name and a church blessing” when questioned by authorities, Dimaano said.
The incident comes after President Donald Trump said in August that he was “very seriously” considering ending birthright citizenship in the United States.
The baby’s mother, Dulap, handed over the boy to Talbot in southern Davao city, Dimaano said, adding that investigators will try to determine how Talbot brought the baby out of Davao, which requires city clearance for infants to be transported by a foreigner.
The baby’s parents weren’t arrested, but have been charged under a child protection law. Dimaano said the mother has been interviewed by social welfare officers.
Dimaano said Dulap told the officers she wanted to offer her baby up for adoption. He said there was no indication she had sold the baby.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.