The owners of a day care center in New York City have been accused of hiding bags of fentanyl beneath a trap door in the children’s play area, according to the police. Last week, a toddler died, and three others were sickened by opioid exposure at the day care center. New York City detectives discovered the narcotics, including a large quantity of fentanyl and other drug paraphernalia concealed beneath plywood and tile flooring during a search warrant execution at the Bronx apartment. Photos shared by the police show bags of powder inside the “trap floor,” near a shelf of children’s toys.
The discovery was made nearly a week after four young children attending the day care center were treated for opioid poisoning. One-year-old Nicholas Dominici, one of the victims, is believed to have died from the exposure. The day care center operator, Grei Mendez, and a tenant of the building, Carlisto Acevedo Brito, have been charged with murder of “depraved indifference” in Dominici’s death. Authorities are still searching for Mendez’s husband, who is also a cousin to Brito.
Prior to finding drugs beneath the trap door, police had already found a kilogram of fentanyl stored near mats used by the children for sleeping, along with drug mixing and pressing devices. Federal prosecutors allege that Mendez attempted to cover up the drug operation after realizing that some of the children were not waking up from their naps. She called her husband before alerting first responders, and he was seen on surveillance footage leaving the building with multiple shopping bags.
During a federal court appearance, Mendez’s attorney claimed she had no knowledge of the drug operation and suggested that her husband was responsible. Brito did not speak during his court appearance, and inquiries to his attorney were not returned. Both Mendez and Brito face federal charges of possession with intent to distribute narcotics resulting in death and one count of conspiracy. They have also been charged in state court with murder, manslaughter, and assault. If convicted, they could face life in prison.