THE BRONX - The federal government is now in charge of the investigation into the tragic death of 1-year-old Nicholas Dominici, who, along with three other children, was exposed to the toxic opioid fentanyl while taking a nap inside a Bronx day care.
"We allege that the defendants poisoned four babies and killed one of them because they were running a drug operation from a day care center," said Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
The day care owner – Grei Mendez, 36, who was weeping in federal court, and the other defendant, Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41, who rented a room inside the day care – were arraigned on murder and attempted murder charges.
"Fentanyl is the most urgent threat in our nation, the tragedy that unfolded in the Bronx at the Divino Nino Day Care Center demonstrates the danger fentanyl poses to every New Yorker," said Frank Tarentino, D.E.A. New York special agent in charge.
Court documents alleged on Friday afternoon, Mendez discovered the young children were not waking up from nap time. She then made three calls, including two to her husband, before dialing 911, the criminal complaint alleged.
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Prosecutors said Mendez's husband was seen on security camera footage leaving the daycare with two shopping bags out a back alley before ambulances arrived. He's still on the run.
When medics arrived at the day care, they administered Narcan to the children to counteract the toxic narcotic, but it was too late for Dominici.
The U.S. attorney said the defendants were running an illegal drug operation out of the day care.
"When law enforcement officers entered the day care, they found a large quantity of fentanyl and machinery used to press and package products for distribution. In particular, they found a brick of fentanyl about a pound in weight right on top of children's mat's in the day care's closet," Williams said.