Bronx Daycare Owners Face Federal Opioid Trafficking Charges After Toddler’s Death


Grei Mendez, 36, and Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41, find themselves embroiled in federal drug charges following the tragic opioid overdose of a toddler and hospitalization of three others at a Bronx day care, as revealed in a complaint lodged in the Southern District of New York.

Previously charged with murder in state court, both now face grave federal accusations of conspiracy to distribute narcotics leading to death and possession with the intent to deal narcotics that resulted in fatalities. If found guilty, the pair could be sentenced to lifelong incarceration. After their appearance in court, Mendez and Brito were kept in federal custody due to the prosecution’s assertion of their potential flight risk.

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Mendez is indicated as the day care’s owner and operator, while her husband’s cousin, Brito, resided in a bedroom within the facility. The legal charges are rooted in the fatality of a one-year-old child from likely opioid exposure and the subsequent harm to three others at the Divino Niño day care.

The shocking incident triggered an outpouring of city-wide consternation, with the US Attorney for the Southern District, Damian Williams, and law enforcement on the pursuit of Mendez’s husband. Williams alleges that the defendants and their co-conspirators were covertly operating a fentanyl distribution business from the same premises.

The severity of the situation was palpable when Mendez et al. shed tears as her plea for bail was denied, owing to her Dominican citizenship and allegations of her husband’s flight. The court suggested the threat of Mendez fleeing was rife. Amidst the emotional upheaval, Mendez found an opportunity to converse with her attorney via a Spanish translator, asserting her innocence and eschewing the allegations, especially those against her husband. Brito’s legal representative did not plea for bail but reserved his rights to do so in the future. Brito has been scheduled for another federal court hearing on October 19.

The incident came to light after local authorities were alerted to the day care following the discovery of the unconscious children. As a part of the rescue efforts, all three children received Narcan, an opioid reversal drug. While two children survived the terrifying ordeal, one-year-old Nicholas succumbed to his condition at the Montefiore Medical Center. Moreover, a two-year-old who had been sent home from the day care earlier was later admitted to BronxCare Health Systems, undergoing critical narcotic reversal to save him.

An avalanche of shocking revelations ensued when a massive kilogram of fentanyl was unearthed from the children’s nap area at the day care. A DEA agent alleges that Mendez made a hasty attempt to tamper with the evidence, based on surveillance footage showing Mendez’s husband arriving empty-handed and leaving with bags right before the police’s arrival.

Additional surveillance footage countered Mendez’s declaration that nobody had visited the day care on the fatal day had been contradicted. She is also accused of deleting over 21,000 encrypted messages and trying to contact her husband during the officials’ investigation. Allegations against the other defendant, Brito, are backed by messages that allegedly confirm his involvement in narcotics trafficking, indicating they might have been tipped off about a potential law enforcement presence days before the fatal incident. These chilling details reveal a complex nexus of alleged crimes concealed behind the innocent façade of a day care center.