Union County suspect arrested for human trafficking

Published: May. 15, 2009 at 3:30 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 15, 2009 at 3:43 AM EDT
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By Steve Crump - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Investigators say Mercedes Farquharson held her two daughters hostage at a secluded home in Union County, North Carolina, and forced them to work 20 hours a day as modern-day slaves.

After three years on the run, Farquharson has been caught in another country.

Farquharson vanished from Union County in 2006, but she was recently arrested by Interpol agents in Bulgaria during a traffic stop.  She was using an alias.

Federal agents in the United States want to bring her back to Charlotte, North Carolina, to face charges.

The investigation started at a Union County home more than three years ago and Union County Sheriff's deputies learned this week that Farquharson was being held in police custody.

"She is simply being detained in that country at this time," said Union County Chief Ben Bailey.  "The United States government will have to present a case to the Bulgarian government."

Farquharson faces state charges on two counts of child abuse and three counts of involuntary servitude, also known as slavery.

Her two adopted daughters, Holly and Jasmine, were considered house servants.  They worked 20 hours a day and claimed they were beaten if they didn't finish their chores.

In 2006, Jamine recalled the demeaning tasks.

"Every night, we had to take 300 chickens in cages and carry them across to the shed," she said.

Farquharson left the Union County area during the probe.

For now, Bailey and the FBI must clear mounds of international red tape to bring her back to the United States.

"We would not be at this point if it weren't for the resources of the FBI, as well is the cooperation and investment of our own district attorney," Bailey said.

WBTV has also learned that Farquharson lived in Spain and has assumed as many as eight aliases while on the run from authorities.