Early on Wednesday morning, Philippine authorities arrested an American woman who was found carrying a baby boy concealed by a sweater by the boarding gates of Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
The woman was identified as 43-year-old Jennifer Talbot from Ohio and has been charged with human trafficking. The Philippines’ National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said that she allegedly tried to “conceal and sneak the baby out” of the country, the BBC reported.
Upon further inspection, they discovered that Talbot had kept the 6-day-old baby inside her carry-on during immigration checks and only took him out when they reached the pre-departure area. She did not possess a flight ticket for the baby and failed to mention him during pre-departure formalities like the security check.
Talbot initially claimed to be the infant’s aunt but there are no documents that prove this, CNN Philippines reported. Authorities later found out that Talbot flew to the Philippines before the baby was born to meet with his mother Maricris Dulap in Davao City on Mindanao island. Talbot then took the baby after he was born and brought him to the capital Manila.
Dulap told the Department of Social Welfare and Development that she allegedly met Talbot online and agreed to have her baby adopted. Talbot had an affidavit that declared her intention to adopt the baby but it lacked Dulap’s signature.
According to NBC News, Talbot has five children in the United States and no previous criminal record. Apart from human trafficking, she was also charged with child abuse, kidnapping, and serious illegal detention by the Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office. She could face life imprisonment and a fine of up to $96,200. Authorities have notified the U.S. embassy in the Philippines and given a list of lawyers who could potentially represent the suspect.
Dulap and the child's biological father have also been charged under a child protection law but the latter remains at large and is still unidentified, reports state.