- "The shelter ... had pretty much become a brothel," says a Juarez police spokesman
- One of the women living at the shelter stopped police in the street and asked for help
- A 50-year-old woman heading the shelter is in police custody
The director of a battered women's shelter in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, was being held Wednesday on charges that she forced the women she cared for to commit sex acts with strangers, local authorities told CNN.
Authorities were also investigating if children who lived at the shelter -- some as young as 5 years old -- were forced into prostitution as well, Arturo Sandoval, spokesman for the state attorney general's office, told CNN.
"That is an aspect of our investigation, but that's still yet to be determined," Sandoval, whose office has taken the lead of the investigation, said.
Soledad Griensen Porras, 50, of Juarez was arrested Tuesday afternoon after one of the women in the shelter stopped police in the street asking for help, according to Adrian Sanchez, spokesman for the Juarez municipal police department.
"Our officers responded immediately and that's when they found the shelter, which had pretty much become a brothel," Sanchez said.
Officers found "several irregularities" at the shelter "as well as five other women...and eight children," Sanchez said.
The children had been beaten and had "chile put on their private parts" according to a press release from the Juarez municipal police department.
"Griensen is the only person being held in relation to these charges," Sandoval told CNN.
"She is currently in our custody. I can't give you anymore details about her since our investigation is ongoing," he added.
It was unclear how long Griensen had owned the Mujeres Unidas Contra la Violencia ("women united against violence") shelter or how long its residents allegedly had been forced to perform sex acts, Sanchez said.
"That is all part of the investigation," he added.