Jennifer Erin Talbot was held at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the Philippines after airport staff found the newborn in her suitcase.

By Joelle Goldstein
September 06, 2019
Philippines Bureau of Immigration

An American woman has been arrested and held in the Philippines after airport staff discovered a baby inside of her carry-on luggage as she was preparing to leave the country.

The disturbing encounter occurred on Wednesday morning at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila around 6:20 a.m., CNN Philippines reports.

A spokesperson with the Philippines Immigration Bureau (PIB) told the outlet that the woman, identified as Jennifer Erin Talbot, was traveling through Terminal 3, preparing for her flight to the U.S., when officers discovered the 6-day-old baby inside her bag during security screenings.

Talbot, 43, allegedly claimed that the newborn was her nephew, but had no documentation to prove this, according to CNN Philippines.

“[The] infant was hidden in the oversized belt bag and [she] did not declare nor present to the immigration inspector during departure formalities,” a spokesperson with the PIB told the local outlet.

According to Grafton Medina from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Talbot was planning to board a Delta flight to Detroit, with plans to end up in Columbus, Ohio, NBC News reports.

A separate PIB spokesman, Melvin Mabulac, told CNN that Talbot appeared to be traveling alone and presented her personal passport, but did not have one for the baby.

Talbot was eventually arrested by local authorities, according to Medina, who believes Talbot will likely be charged with child trafficking.

“She would not have a baby in a hand-carry to be x-rayed. But she hid it at check-in and when she passed immigration counters, and then at the other x-ray to the boarding gate, then she showed it,” Medina told NBC News. “That’s the time we were able to apprehend her when she passed through the next x-ray.”

“We worked in coordination with US-based airline who helped us apprehend the passenger at the boarding gate,” Medina added to the outlet.

Officials have yet to interrogate Talbot, as she has requested to speak with the U.S. Embassy first, according to CNN Philippines.

In the meantime, the newborn baby has been transferred to the Social Welfare Department’s custody and is currently safe.

The Philippines Immigration Bureau and the National Bureau of Investigation did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

An attorney for Talbot could not immediately be found by PEOPLE.

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