The owner of a Bronx, New York daycare center allegedly deleted 21,500 encrypted messages prior to being arrested for the fentanyl death of an infant in her care according to an unsealed criminal complaint. Three other children were also harmed, but emergency medical services were able to administer Narcan, a pharmaceutical used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
.@ChrisCuomo reacts to the story of children being exposed to fentanyl at a Bronx day care, resulting in the death of a 1-year old boy. "Everything about it is disgusting," Cuomo says.
— NewsNation (@NewsNation) September 21, 2023
Police released new details in the case following the arrest of Grei Mendez, 33, and Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41, on September 19. Police believe that Brito, who was a tenant in the building housing the daycare center, was also involved in the manufacture and distribution of the deadly opioid. Investigators are currently looking for a third individual, the husband of Mendez and cousin of Brito, who was seen on surveillance video leaving the daycare center with two shopping bags shortly before police arrived.
Investigators located a kilogram of fentanyl, equipment used to press the powder into pills, materials for packaging the deadly drug in the daycare center and a bedroom that was rented by Brito. Both suspects have denied knowledge of the drugs and equipment. Mendez told police that the drugs might have been left behind by a previous tenant.
During the investigation, police allege they discovered a cardboard box containing the drugs stacked on top of playmats used when the children were taking naps. It isn’t yet clear how the four children came to be exposed to the drug, but police believe the operation to manufacture and sell fentanyl has been ongoing since July.
Brito and Mendez are currently being held in jail and are facing several federal drug charges that include conspiracy to distribute narcotics resulting in death and possession with intent to distribute resulting in death. Additional charges are likely to follow.
The most recent information comes from an unsealed federal complaint that shows Mendez attempted to cover up the crimes prior to calling 911 after finding the children unresponsive. Police claim Mendez made phone calls to another employee and her husband before contacting emergency services and then lied to investigators by claiming no one else had been at the center in the hours leading up to the overdose death.
The drugs seized at the center are estimated to have a street value of around $100,000. Experts say that one kilo of fentanyl can produce as many as 500,000 lethal doses. Fentanyl is often mixed with other opioids to increase the effects. Drug dealers frequently add lethal doses of the drug to heroin which leads to users seeking out the drug which is perceived to offer a better high. More than 70,600 overdose deaths were attributed to fentanyl in the U.S. in 2021.