Bronx Daycare Operators Face Federal Charges After Toddler’s Overdose Death

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In an unsettling incident, two individuals have been implicated in federal drug-related charges following the tragic overdose death of a toddler and the hospitalization of three other minors at a day care center situated in the Bronx. These charges emerged from a complaint filed in the Southern District of New York on Monday.

The indicted individuals, Grei Mendez, aged 36, and Carlisto Acevedo Brito, aged 41, had previously been charged with murder at the state court. They now also face federal charges for conspiring to distribute narcotics that resulted in death and possession with intent to distribute narcotics, which consequently led to death.

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The severity of these federal charges could potentially lead to a life sentence for both Mendez and Brito. The two were mandated to remain under federal custody as they await their impending hearing due to the prosecution’s argument that they both presented a significant flight risk.

Insights from court documents reveal that Mendez operated the day care facility, and Brito, being her husband’s cousin, resided in a room within this institution. The aforementioned charges were consequent to a toddler’s death after his exposure, along with three other children, to opioids at the Divino Niño day care center in the Bronx.

Commenting on these shocking revelations, Damian Williams, US Attorney for the Southern District, expressed that the incident had profoundly impacted the city’s conscience. Williams revealed that the defendants, along with their collaborators, managed a fentanyl distribution enterprise at the day care center itself. An ongoing search is currently underway for Mendez’s husband.

The courtroom witnessed an emotional moment when Mendez and her family shed tears as the federal magistrate denied her bail on Tuesday. The judge aligned with the prosecution’s viewpoint that Mendez, a citizen of the Dominican Republic and a legal resident of the US, represented a flight risk. The prosecution reasoned that Mendez’s husband had already absconded, leaving the possibility open for her to do the same.

Mendez’s attorney relayed that she firmly maintains her innocence and would never abandon her children. Brito’s court-appointed attorney did not request bail at this time, yet he reserves the right to do so later. Brito is expected to reappear in the federal court on October 19.

The shocking series of events unraveled last Friday when the New York City police responded to an emergency at the day care. Upon arrival, they found three unconscious children. First responders immediately administered Narcan, an opioid reversal treatment, to the children. Two survived, but tragically, 1-year-old Nicholas succumbed at Montefiore Medical Center. Soon after, another 2-year-old, taken home from day care earlier, was rushed to BronxCare Health System. Here, Narcan was administered, saving the toddler’s life.

A disconcerting discovery of a kilogram of fentanyl in the area where children napped at the day care fueled the investigation further.

An incriminating piece of evidence in the federal complaint details DEA special agent’s belief that Mendez attempted to eliminate evidence ahead of law enforcement’s search. Surveillance footage reportedly showed Mendez’s husband entering the day care empty-handed and exiting soon after with two presumably weighted shopping bags.

Adding to the suspicion, Mendez’s husband was spotted at the day care earlier that day, contradicting Mendez’s declaration. Moreover, a reported mass deletion of over 21,000 messages from an encrypted application and suspicious exchanges between Brito and an unidentified individual further point towards their involvement in the narcotics trafficking.

This unsettling incident marks a grim convergence of innocent lives intersecting a dangerous world of drugs and deceit, leaving a lasting impact on the community.