From beauty queen to 'Miss Torture': Ex‑Miss Puebla Maria Hilda Bustillos Lucas accused of abusing employees
Maria Hilda Bustillos Lucas, the recipient of the Miss Puebla title in 1991, who subsequently represented the state in the Mexicana Universal pageant, has now acquired a new title. The global media have christened her the first "Miss Torture" due to her alleged ill-treatment of her employees.
"Miss Torture:" Transition from Miss Puebla to international infamy
Who could have suspected that an innocent-looking job ad could be a trap? Yet, it seems that around 15 women, mostly from Mexico's less affluent regions, were ensnared. They were promised work that could provide them a fresh start in life.
Maria Hilda Bustillos Lucas was recently arrested by the Mexican police. As the media refer to her, "Miss Torture" allegedly lured these women with job postings on social media, promising them better opportunities. Lucas allegedly provided food and shelter, along with a weekly wage of 1,800 Mexican pesos, equivalent to approximately $21 USD.
However, upon their arrival, it emerged that the former Miss Puebla had utterly different plans for her employees. She allegedly imprisoned some of the women in her house, and when they failed to meet her standards, she punished them with psychological and physical abuse. One of the alleged victims even claimed to have been physically assaulted with a hammer. She also purportedly offered some women to her wealthy contacts, who gladly accepted her offer.
Late in March, Lucas was arrested. Charges against her included human trafficking, unlawful detention, and abuse of women. Regrettably, due to a technicality, the arrest was deemed illegal; "Miss Torture" was freed the very next day following her capture.
Jarring testimonies from victims and witnesses
The police apprehended "Miss Torture" after one of the victims managed to escape. It also came to light that her neighbors had become suspicious of her activities and had reported their concerns to local law enforcement.
"We heard screams. She didn't beat them openly or in the streets, but we could hear their cries."
- one of the witnesses confided to the Mirror. One of the detained women stated that besides physical abuse, they also faced starvation. Unfortunately, there might be more victims than currently known. Investigators suggest that "Miss Torture" could have been conducting her "operation" for nearly 30 years.