MANILA, Philippines (CBSNewYork/AP) — An American woman has been arrested for allegedly attempting to smuggle a six-day-old baby out of the Philippines in her carry-on bag.
Philippine officials said Jennifer Erin Talbot was actually able to get by the airport immigration counter on Wednesday without declaring the baby boy, but was later intercepted at the boarding gate by security.
The U.S. citizen was taken into custody at Manila’s airport and charged with human trafficking.
Talbot was unable to produce any passport, boarding pass, or government permits for the baby, airport officials said.
Public records indicate she has been living in Utah. Philippines officials previously said Talbot was from Ohio, and records indicate she does have some family connections there.
Property records obtained Thursday show Talbot owns a home in a suburb of Salt Lake City.
Wearing an orange detainee shirt and handcuffs, Talbot, 43, was presented to reporters in Manila on Thursday. She kept her head low and wiped her tears at times. When reporters asked her to comment, Talbot shook her head.
Authorities say Talbot had planned to board a Delta Air Lines flight back to the United States with the newborn.
“There was really an intention to hide the baby,” immigration official Grifton Medina told media outlets by telephone.
After discovering the week-old infant, airline staff called immigration personnel, who arrested Talbot at the airport. She was later handed over to the National Bureau of Investigation and the baby was turned over to government welfare personnel.
The NBI said Talbot presented an affidavit at the airport, allegedly from the baby’s mother, identified as Maricris Dulap, 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 Talbot. The charges carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment in the country.
Talbot also reportedly violated at least two other laws on child abuse, kidnapping, and illegal detention the NBI said.
U.S. Embassy officials were notified of Talbot’s arrest and told Philippine authorities that she has no criminal record in the U.S., NBI official Manuel Dimaano said.
Dimaano said Dulap gave her baby to Talbot in southern Davao city. He said investigators will try to determine how Talbot brought the baby out of Davao, which requires a city clearance for infants to be transported by a foreigner.
The baby’s parents have been charged under a child protection law but have not been placed under arrest, although the mother has been interviewed by social welfare officers, Dimaano said.
Dimaano said when he and other officials asked Talbot what she intended to do with the baby, she replied that she just wanted to give it “a name and a church blessing.”
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)