43-year-old Jennifer Erin Talbot was arrested at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the Philippines after being caught trying to carry a 6-day-old baby out of the country hidden inside her carry-on bag.
Talbot, who is from Ohio and was traveling back to the United States, was able to pass through the airport immigration counter without declaring the baby boy but was intercepted at the boarding gate by airline personnel.
She was unable to produce any passport, boarding pass or government permits for the baby, airport officials said.
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.
Officials are searching for the baby’s parents, who have been charged under a child protection law.
Officials say the baby boy is safe and is currently in the custody of the country’s social welfare department.