Police find ‘trapdoor’ filled with drugs at fentanyl nursery where child died
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Featured Image Credit: NYPD / ABC 7 Chicago
Police found a trapdoor in a New York City daycare which concealed a ‘large quantity’ of fentanyl, other drugs and paraphernalia.
The discovery at the daycare in The Bronx comes after a toddler died from exposure to the opioid fentanyl as the investigation into the one-year-old boy’s death continues.
Nicholas Dominici was meant to turn two in November and had been at the Divino Niño nursery for only a week. He died of a suspected drug overdose after fentanyl was discovered hidden in the nap room under a mat where he slept, police said.
Surveillance footage and phone records show that Mendez phoned her husband several times after discovering that the children had fallen ill. These calls are said to have been made before she called 911.
Her husband arrived at the nursery and removed several shopping bags from the nursery that were full, officials said.
Three other children were admitted to hospital after being exposed to the narcotic. An analysis of urine from one of the victims confirmed the presence of fentanyl.
Police said the volume of the drugs recovered from the nursery could have killed 500,000 people. Investigators also found three presses used to package kilos of drugs at the nursery.
Manhattan US Attorney Damien Williams said: "We allege the defendants poisoned four babies, and killed one of them, because they were running a drug operation from a daycare centre."
The daycare's owner, Grei Mendez, 36, and her tenant, Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41, are now facing federal charges of possessing narcotics with intent to distribute resulting in death and conspiracy charges, according to prosecutors.
Both individuals were formally charged by a grand jury on Thursday (21 September), and are being held without bail after being labelled as flight risks.
They both face life in prison if they’re convicted.
A lawyer for Mendez said his client has denied the charges and was unaware that the lethal drugs were being kept in the nursery by Brito, her husband’s cousin.
It is ulcer if Brito has a legal representative.
Fentanyl is a highly potent synthetic opioid drug that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, according to the CDC.
It is extremely addictive because of its potency and the CDC says that the drug, along with other synthetic opioids, are the most common drugs involved in overdose deaths. Over 150 people die every day from overdoses related to synthetic opioids.
By 2021, more than 100,000 people had died annually from drug overdoses, with 66% of the cases being related to the use of fentanyl.