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‘Cartel Claims They’re Holding Zailey’: Las Vegas Mother Whose Daughter Mysteriously Went Missing In Mexico Faces Accusations After the FBI Finds Her Daughter

The mother of a 21-year-old transient woman who reportedly went missing in Mexico says she has been located by the FBI.

April Reed reported her daughter Zailey Unidad Flores missing to the U.S. federal agency. The FBI issued a missing bulletin on Jan. 12, the same day Reed said she received a call from her daughter saying that she was in Tijuana, Mexico, and she was “gonna die.”

“I asked what she meant by that, and she said she was going to ‘atone for her sins,'” Reed said in a Facebook Live interview.

Zailey Unidad Flores missing in Tijuana
April Reed, left, Zailey Unidad Flores, right (Photos: Facebook/Mabelle)

Reed also made a TikTok video that went viral, where she shared screenshots of messages about requests for ransom. One message implied that her daughter was sex trafficked by a cartel.

The mother said she was also concerned about Flores’ mental wellness. She has a history of drug abuse and mental illness, which often caused her to fall out of her relationship with her family. In fact, according to Reed, the two have not spoken much over the past three years as she seemed to fall deeper into her manic behavior.

The FBI said the missing woman had been linked to a plethora of U.S. cities, such as Detroit, Phoenix, and the Slauson Avenue and Skid Row areas of Los Angeles. Reed said she was concerned because this time Flores’ disappearance “seemed different.”

Reed said Flores’ alleged boyfriend, Ricardo De La Torre, shared screenshots with Reed from a Facebook account where someone asked for money in exchange for her daughter’s return.

De La Torre, a man in his 40s, said he went with Flores to Mexico to look for apartments. Reed said she never heard of De La Torre, whose story has changed numerous times.

Reed said De La Torre translated the message where the person first demanded $500 for her daughter’s return. The number later went from $750 to $2,000, she said.

Reed said when she got in touch with the person who made the posts, she asked them to provide her with “proof of life,” like a photograph of Flores. The person never provided it to her, and the ransom then increased. Reed shared screenshots in the TikTok video that she deleted on Feb. 3, according to a post on Facebook.

Atlanta Black Star was able to view Reed’s screenshot through responses to the video on TikTok.

“I don’t understand this. “What does it say?” Reed responds to the screenshot that De La Torre shared. “Have you talked to her any?”

“Basically cartel claims they’re holding zailey don’t tell cops or ur both dead we want 500 dollars,” De La Torre responded. “U will get her back we will bring her to you.”

De La Torre said he had not heard from Flores in two weeks, and “her journal sounds like she was getting ready to kill herself.”

Reed, who lives in Las Vegas, said she was in the middle of moving when she received the call from Flores. Her first thought was to figure out how she could get to Mexico to get her daughter. She said he asked Flores discovery questions like “who she was with” in Tijuana, but she sounded “incoherent.” She contacted law enforcement and posted messages on social media to ask for help.

“She had met a stranger that was out there, she said he was about 19 years old, and I asked her if they were harming her and if she felt like they were gonna harm her. And she said no,” Reed said in the TikTok video.

The Justice Department said it reached out to the U.S. Embassy in Tijuana and consulate for their assistance and asked people with any information about her whereabouts to contact the agencies.

“Flores has scars on her left arm, left hands, left and right wrists, and vertical scars on her palms. She also has burn marks on both of her legs,” the Justice Department document wrote. “Her left and right shins have burn marks that are brown in color, likely from cigarettes.”

Flores has been in trouble with the law before. In 2021, she was arrested and charged with felony grand theft of a 2015 Kia and misdemeanor petit theft. She told Madison County Sheriff’s deputies she was trying to get their attention.

“She made several comments about the world coming to an end and that she needed to tell as many people as possible,” a deputy wrote in the probable cause affidavit.

Due to her mental health condition, Reed said that Flores was known to disappear and reappear at family events and during the holidays. She had to rescue her daughter multiple times in the past, she said.

Reed said in a Facebook post on Saturday, Feb. 4, that Flores had been found and thanked the FBI. However, the mother also said she has received several comments accusing her of making up the story about her daughter.

“Thanks to everyone who sent messages, emails, pictures, actual locations of people, raggedy comments, had our back, called to check on us!!” Reed wrote on Saturday night.

Reed seemingly also responded to critics in another post:

“Why would I stage some sh-t on my own child? Call the FBI. Make a police report. Consulate report. Interviews. Expose my own shortcomings as a human. Return the donated money,” she wrote. “Y’all be big miserable. I like my freedom. So I would never.”

As of Sunday, Feb. 5, the FBI has not officially announced any updates in Flores’ case.

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