(NEW YORK) — A Utah woman is now facing a possible life sentence in the Philippines after she allegedly tried to sneak a baby out of the country in a closed bag at the airport in Manila, according to authorities.
Jennifer Talbot, 43, had passed through immigration on Wednesday but she was stopped at a Delta boarding gate by airline personnel who inquired about her oversize carry-on sling bag, Philippine authorities told ABC News on Thursday.
“[Talbot] passed through the immigration counter without declaring the baby so, you know, they did not see [the] baby because she was carrying the baby in a sling bag. … They did not notice or they were surprised when they learned that a baby was inside the sling bag,” said Manny Dimaano, of the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), during a news conference on Thursday.
Dimaano said that, “based on the instructions on the bag, it should be carried in front and the head of the baby should be in an upright position so you could see the baby but then it was not carried that way so there was really an intention to conceal and to sneak out the baby, and that is why she was able to pass through the security.”
While officials had originally said she was from Ohio, public records obtained by ABC News Thursday placed her recently in Utah. Records also showed that Talbot had family in Ohio.
Talbot did not declare or present the child to the immigration inspector during departure formalities, the Philippines Bureau of Immigration told ABC News on Thursday. The immigration bureau said that while the agency is tasked with checking passengers’ travel documents, bags and luggage are not under its jurisdiction.
Talbot allegedly told authorities that she wanted to give the baby boy a name and a church blessing, authorities said.
Talbot was charged Wednesday in Pasay City court with violating the Anti-Trafficking in Person’s Act of 2003. The human-trafficking charge carries a life sentence, authorities said.
Dimaano said Talbot would remain in the Philippines while the case was under investigation.
She was also charged with violating at least two other laws on child abuse, kidnapping and illegal detention, authorities said.
The NBI said the U.S. Embassy had told authorities that Talbot was from Ohio and that she had no derogatory record. It said she’d asked for help from the U.S. Embassy and that the embassy had given her a list of law firms.
Authorities said that Talbot had allegedly told them that she met the baby’s mother via the internet. Based on documents found with Talbot during her arrest at the airport, authorities said, she came from Davao City. The baby is believed to have come from Davao.
Authorities said the baby’s parents had been charged with human trafficking but they were still at large.
The National Bureau of Investigation said it had no information on whether the baby had been sold to Talbot.
In a statement to ABC News Thursday, a spokesperson said the State Department was aware of the reports about Talbot.
“Due to privacy considerations, we have nothing further at this time. We refer you to local authorities for any further details,” the State Department said.
Delta Airlines told ABC News that it was fully cooperating with Manila authorities on their investigation.
“The safety and security of our customers and employees is and always will be Delta’s top priority,” Delta said.
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