The owner of the Bronx daycare center where a 1-year-old child died after being exposed to fentanyl appears to have tried to cover up her involvement in a sprawling drug operation
Federal prosecutors say Grei Mendez, who moved to New York from the Dominican Republic nine years ago, claimed she had no knowledge of the opioids even as medics rushed to treat several children in her care who were poisoned by the drugs, according to Fox News. Her actions were described as “truly galling” and “unspeakably dangerous.”
Mendez and Carlisto Acevedo Brito, who rented a room from her, were hit with new federal narcotics conspiracy charges on Tuesday — both were already charged in state court with murder of “depraved indifference” in the death of 1-year-old Nicholas Dominici.
A third suspect, Mendez’s husband and a cousin to Brito is being sought by authorities after he fled upon learning of the children’s apparent exposure. In addition to the death of the 1-year-old, three children ranging in age from 8 months to 2 years old were hospitalized.
“Officials say they discovered a kilogram of fentanyl stored on top of playmats used by children who attended the daycare, which was run out of a small Bronx apartment. They also found multiple devices for mixing the powder with other narcotics and pressing it into bricks,” Fox News reported.
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Federal prosecutors have accused Mendez, 36, of playing a role in both the drug distribution ring and her husband’s escape. On Friday afternoon, after discovering the three children in her care were not waking up from their nap, she made three calls, including two to her husband, before dialing 911, prosecutors said.
Within minutes of those calls, the husband was seen entering the Bronx apartment, then whisking at least two full shopping bags out of the building through a back alley. Emergency personnel arrived shortly after to find the children showing signs of opioid intoxication.
The phone calls, along with the apparent deletion of thousands of texts between Mendez and her husband, suggested an effort to cover up the narcotics operation inside the apartment, according to Brandon Thompson, an assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan.
Yet, a “distraught” Mendez reportedly denied having any knowledge of the drug operation Tuesday in a Manhattan federal court — she also cried out for her daughter and mother, who were both in attendance, while holding her head in her hands.
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