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Investigators in New York conducted another search of the daycare where four children were sickened by opioid exposure last week — killing one — and found more drugs beneath a trap door in the play area.
Nicholas Dominici, 1, died on Friday, and two 2-year-old boys and an 8-month-old girl were hospitalized after they were revived with Narcan. Police said a urinalysis of one of the victims confirmed the presence of fentanyl, WABC said.
Authorities searched the Bronx daycare on Friday and found a kilogram of fentanyl stacked with play mats and three kilo presses, used to package drugs. They returned Wednesday night and Thursday after they were tipped to the presence of the trap door, sources told ABC.
Police said they found fentanyl, other narcotics, and drug paraphernalia in the hidden space behind the trap door, which was in the children’s play area.
As part of an ongoing overdose fatality investigation in a Bronx daycare center on 9/15/23, a search warrant was conducted by @NYPDDetectives. A large quantity of Fentanyl, other narcotics, & drug paraphernalia was recovered in a trap floor in the play area at the daycare center. https://t.co/VycTB9hzpx pic.twitter.com/ZwaeukUHqS
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) September 21, 2023
Grei Mendez, owner of the Divino Nino daycare, and her tenant, Carlisto Acevedo Brito, were arrested on murder and drug charges, as CrimeOnline reported. They were later arrested on federal drug charges as well and are being held without bail.
According to Mendez’s attorney, she had no knowledge of the drugs and said they were stored there by Brito, her husband’s cousin. Prosecutors, however, say she made phones calls to her husband before calling 911 when she discovered the children were not waking from their naps. Police are looking for the husband, who was reportedly seen on video coming to the daycare and leaving with two large trash bags.
The daycare opened in January and was licensed in May, according to public records. City inspectors conducted a surprise inspection earlier this month and found no violations, according to Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan.
“I’m very sorry, but one of the things that my child care inspectors are not trained to do is look for fentanyl,” Vasan said at a news conference earlier this week. “But maybe they need to.”
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[Featured image: New York Police Department]