A former Oaxaca beauty queen has been jailed without bail on suspicion of being part of a kidnapping ring operating in the states of Veracruz and Oaxaca.
Laura Mojica Romero, 25, was Miss Oaxaca in 2018 and the 2020 International Queen of Coffee in Colombia, a beauty pageant at which she represented Mexico. She was arrested Thursday with seven other people in a raid conducted by a federal anti-kidnapping unit after two months of investigation.
A judge on Saturday ruled that Mojica and the seven others will remain in prison for the next two months while authorities continue to gather evidence. Members of the group each face up to 50 years in prison.
Mojica, a native of the city of Tuxtepec, is a graduate of Veracruz University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Her resume says she is fluent in English and a spokesperson for associations fighting breast cancer and cancer in children. She told Newsweek México in 2019 that she was “more than just a pretty face” and that her participation in beauty contests as Miss Oaxaca had made her a more altruistic person.
She cited as an example her efforts to bring coats, sweaters, and blankets to remote communities in the Northern Sierra of Oaxaca. She also told the publication that she planned to organize support for a musical group for children in the Oaxaca municipality of San Pedro Cajonos and create an entrepreneurial group for women as a strategy to combat gender violence.
According to federal statistics, Veracruz occupies one of the top spots in the country for kidnappings, on average 15–20 per month, only surpassed by México state. One of the most recent high-profile kidnappings in the state occurred on November 11, in which Florisel Ríos, the mayor of Jamapa, was kidnapped and killed.