Suspects in the fentanyl death of a child at a Bronx daycare center face federal charges


New York – The two people were arrested in One-year-old Nicholas Dominici dies at a New York City day care home They now face federal charges.

This is due to the amount of drugs found.

Three other children were hospitalized after being exposed to fentanyl that was allegedly being processed at the site in the Bronx.

Police said they found a kilogram of fentanyl in a hallway closet at the nursery, stacked on top of children’s play mats. They also said that they found three-kilo compression machines used to package medicines.

Details of the investigation were revealed

Federal officials held a news conference to discuss the federal charges on Tuesday. We brought you this press conference Live on CBS News New York.

“This case is different. We allege that the defendants poisoned four children and killed one of them, because they were running a drug operation out of a daycare center. A daycare center – a place where children should be kept safe, not surrounded by children.” “A drug that could kill them in an instant,” US Attorney Damien Williams said.

Williams said Gray Mendez tried to cover up the fentanyl operation before calling emergency responders. Mendez and her husband’s cousin, Carlisto Acevedo Brito, are under arrest on murder and drug charges. The defendants now face federal charges of conspiracy to distribute drugs resulting in death and possession with intent to distribute drugs resulting in death.

“As alleged in the complaint, before emergency personnel arrived at the daycare, before their arrival, Mendez and a co-conspirator attempted to cover up what had happened. Seconds before Mendez called 911, she called a co-conspirator. Minutes later, a co-conspirator arrived at the daycare, and minutes later he left Nursery and fled into the back alley carrying two full shopping bags, all while the infants were suffering from the effects of fentanyl poisoning and in desperate need of help.”

“In my 32 years of government service, 25 of which were spent serving with the DEA, there has been no news or tragedy more devastating than the loss of a child, and every New Yorker should be outraged by this senseless tragedy,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank Tarantino said.

Officers are searching for Mendez’s husband, who is described in court records as a co-conspirator.

Williams was asked how confident they were of finding a co-conspirator.

“We’re going to get him,” Williams said.

Investigators say that while Mendez was talking to officers, she texted her husband that police were asking about him and suggested he find a lawyer.

Police also searched the phone of Brito, who was renting a bedroom at the nursery. They said Brito received letters in August and September that they believed were related to drug distribution from the day care.

When questioned by investigators, both Brito and Mendez denied having any knowledge of drugs.

The criminal complaint also said Mendez deleted more than 21,500 messages she exchanged with her husband between March 2021 and this month.

Fentanyl is ‘our nation’s most pressing threat’

Tarantino said that more than 110,000 Americans died as a result of drug poisoning.

“Fentanyl is deadly. Fentanyl has crept into our illicit drug supply like cancer, slowly and insidiously, and is now in everything and everywhere, killing victims instantly and indiscriminately. Fentanyl is our nation’s most pressing threat and an unfolding tragedy,” Tarantino said. “What happened in the Bronx at Divino Nino Day Care Center demonstrates the danger fentanyl poses to every New Yorker.”

“This is a tragedy, and my heart breaks for the children and their families,” Williams said. “But I promise you this: We will continue to fight for justice, in this case and in every other case involving this deadly poison.” “I also have a message for anyone who sells fentanyl: Stop using this poison. It kills. It is ruining your life, and it will ruin your life too when we arrest you, convict you, and send you to federal prison.”

Williams called fentanyl a “public health crisis.”

“I’m a lawyer, I’m a United States attorney here, but I’m a father,” Williams said. “Common sense dictates that when you drop your child, you expect your child to remain safe. I don’t think there’s any other way to look at it. It’s incredibly reckless. It’s incredibly reckless, to put your child’s life at risk in that way.”

The federal charges carry a penalty of 20 years to life in prison, Williams said.

Additional web: Read the federal complaint (.pdf)

We also have new photos of what police said were drugs and paraphernalia from inside the nursery.

Federal authorities say this photo shows a kilogram of fentanyl found at the Divino Nino nursery, where toddler Nicholas Dominici died.  /Credit: US Attorney's Office

Federal authorities say this photo shows a kilogram of fentanyl found at the Divino Nino nursery, where toddler Nicholas Dominici died. /Credit: US Attorney’s Office

The pictures show what is claimed to be a kilo of fentanyl, and a kilo of capsules.

Authorities said this was the kilogram compression device found at the Divino Nino Day Care Center in the Bronx, where toddler Nicholas Dominici died.  /Credit: US Attorney's Office

Authorities said this was the kilogram compression device found at the Divino Nino Day Care Center in the Bronx, where toddler Nicholas Dominici died. /Credit: US Attorney’s Office

The investigators are Trying to find the husband of the nursery owner Divino Nino.

WATCH: Adams slams fentanyl problem after Bronx day care center death

City officials defended their inspectors who gave the center the OK days earlier.

“I’m very sorry, but one of the things child welfare inspectors are not trained to do is look for fentanyl. But maybe we need to start,” New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said.

Related story: A Yale University researcher has found an alarming rise in fentanyl-related deaths of children nationwide

“That little piece, that little corner, is less than about the size of a fingernail. A tenth the size of a fingernail can kill an adult. So imagine what it could do to a child,” he said. Mayor Eric Adamshighlighting the effectiveness of the drug.

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