(New York) A sealed package containing fentanyl worth thousands of dollars was discovered inside a New York daycare where a 1-year-old died of an opioid overdose last week. last week, according to court filings.
The owner of the daycare, however, maintained that she was not aware of the presence of this very powerful opioid, which sickened three other young children, including an 8-month-old girl whose fentanyl consumption test showed is found to be positive.
The drugs were found under a rug where the children had been napping, New York Police Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said at a news conference Monday evening.
Grei Mendez, a 36-year-old woman who ran the Divino Niño daycare in a Bronx apartment, pleaded not guilty Sunday to murder charges in connection with the death of little Nicholas Dominici.
A man who rented a room in the apartment, Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41, is awaiting arraignment on the same charges.
Police said they recovered about a kilogram of fentanyl, along with a device used to combine the drug with other narcotics, in a hallway closet connected to the apartment. A second mixing device was found inside the next room occupied by Mr. Brito, according to a criminal complaint.
“We are not going to allow this incident to happen and ignore it, just treat it as another tragedy in the city,” New York Mayor Eric Adams said at the news conference.
M’s lawyerme Mendez, Andres Aranda, said his client lived above the daycare and rented a room from Mr. Brito, her husband’s cousin, for $200 a month.
“Apparently, when the daycare wasn’t open, people were coming in and out of the apartment,” Ms.e Aranda.
Friday was a “normal day” at daycare, Mme Mendez would take the children upstairs, read to them and cook for them, then prepare them for naps, he said. But when little Nicholas didn’t wake up, she became terrified, calling 911 and screaming for help from her neighbors, her attorney said.
When emergency responders arrived at the apartment Friday afternoon, they found Nicholas Dominici, an 8-month-old girl, and a 2-year-old boy showing signs of opioid poisoning. Doctors administered Narcan, an anti-overdose medication, to all three children, helping to counter the symptoms of the 8-month-old and 2-year-old.
Nicholas Dominici was pronounced dead at a Bronx hospital later that day.
A fourth child who had attended the daycare was taken to the hospital by his mother after showing signs of opioid exposure, including shortness of breath and unresponsiveness.
It remains unclear how the children may have been exposed to these drugs. The cause and manner of Nicholas’ death are under further investigation, according to the city’s medical examiner’s office.
Mme Mendez, who also works as a home health aide, was sent to Rikers Island without bail following an arraignment Sunday evening. Mr. Brito was due to appear in court Monday afternoon. A message left with Mr. Brito’s lawyer remained unreturned at press time.