An ex-beauty queen has been arrested on suspicion of keeping women in her home as slaves.

Lili Bustillos, also known as Maria Hilda, who represented Puebla in the Señorita Mexico pageant in 1991, allegedly forced the women to work as servants without pay.

One woman's testimony said: "I still worked under her screams and threats, all because I needed to, but she never paid me a penny, she does have rights, we don't, we live in fear of her and her family, I need her to pay for treating me like a slave."

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Bustillos, dubbed "Miss Torture" by local news outlets, was accused of luring women, mostly indigenous and from the Zacapoaxtla region, to work for her and promised "a salary and in some cases, schooling".

She allegedly then "enslaved them without paying them" and retained "them as servants" using "physical and psychological violence" to keep them in their place.

One woman even claimed she saw Bustillos pour hot oil onto her mother's face, while others said Bustillos hit them with a hammer and cut their hair and fingernails.

The alleged violence came to light when a victim, identified only as "Teresa", managed to escape with the help of a neighbour in 2022.

Non-profit organisation La Red de Formadoras Kualinemilis A.C, who led the charge against Bustillos, claimed: "Teresa had been held as a slave for several years and was beaten with a hammer and cut with a hacksaw by Lili [Bustillos], in addition to having multiple injuries from other weapons.

"The day she was rescued she had not eaten for almost two weeks and was in very poor physical condition."

Teresa complained to police about her alleged mistreatment in April 2022.

However it wasn't until March 9, 2023, that Bustillos was finally arrested, shortly before she was released on a technicality.

She was finally rearrested on Saturday (March 18).

The group who first accused her also published a statement from an alleged former victim who claimed she suffered similar treatment at the hands of Bustillos 15 years ago.

"She took me to her house, promising work, I was in great need and that's why I went, she left me locked up when she went on vacation and I couldn't eat her food, she never paid me, I tried to commit suicide twice with the products she used to clean the bathroom," the victim said.

Meanwhile neighbours allege they've seen at least 15 vulnerable people "pass by" Bustillos' house.

Another woman claimed her mum had been treated in much the same way around five years ago – although she was nervous to report it after Bustillos allegedly threatened her family.

"She is willing to report it," the alleged victim's daughter said, "but she wants protection because [Lili Bustillos] threatened to kill her and harm my family."

La Red de Formadoras Kualinemilis A.C believes there could be many more victims who haven't come forward yet, and added Bustillos could have been carrying out her alleged campaign of abuse for much longer than currently believed.

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