Federal prosecutors are now getting involved in a case that led to a 1-year-old’s death and three other children being hospitalized due to fentanyl poisoning at a New York City day care.
The day care operator, Grei Mendez, and her husband’s cousin Carlisto Acevedo Brito, to whom Mendez rented a room inside the day care, were charged with federal narcotics conspiracy charges Tuesday, on top of their already announced state charges of murder and attempted murder showing “depraved indifference” in 1-year-old Nicholas Dominici’s death.
Though Mendez maintained to authorities she had no knowledge of the fentanyl’s presence in the day care, the new charges allege she did and even tried to cover it up before contacting authorities about the poisoned children.
On Friday afternoon, Mendez called her husband twice then called 911, according to the criminal complaint, when she told police the three young children in her care wouldn’t wake up from nap time.
Surveillance footage shows her husband entered the apartment that housed the center and left with at least two full shopping bags out of a back alley just minutes before emergency medical personnel arrived to find Dominici, a 2-year-old boy, and an 8-month-old girl unconscious.
All three children, along with a fourth child who showed signs of opioid intoxication after leaving the day care, were administered Narcan, but Dominici didn’t survive.
When searching the Bronx apartment later Friday, officials found three kilo presses, which are used to weigh and package narcotics, and a kilogram of fentanyl on top of playmats where the kids took naps.
There are also apparently thousands of deleted texts between Mendez and her husband suggesting an effort to cover the drug operation that was taking place in the apartment, federal authorities said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, federal authorities were still searching for Mendez’s husband, and he was not named in either state or federal court filings.