THE BRONX, N.Y. (PIX11) – Investigators found fentanyl in the room where children napped at a Bronx day care after a 1-year-old boy there died following exposure to the opioid drug, NYPD officials said Monday.
Four young children who went to the Divino Niño day care at 2707 Morris Ave. on Friday were later found unresponsive with fentanyl in their systems, police said. Three of the kids were revived with the opioid-reversing antidote Narcan, but 1-year-old Nicholas Dominici could not be saved, authorities said.
“We discovered a kilogram of fentanyl in an area that was used to give the children naps. It was laid underneath a mat where the children had been sleeping earlier,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Joe Kenny said.
Investigators also found three “kilo presses” at the day care, police said. Kilo presses are devices commonly used by drug dealers when packaging large quantities of illegal narcotics, according to police.
The owner of the day care, 36-year-old Grei Mendez, and her husband’s cousin, 41-year-old Carlisto Acevedo Brito, were arrested Saturday and charged with murder and attempted murder, police said. Brito was reportedly renting out a room within the day care.
Investigators found a kilo press in Brito’s room and two more in a day care closet, according to court documents.
Mendez’s attorney said in court on Sunday that Mendez took care of the children that day, giving them lunch and putting them down for a nap. The attorney said Mendez had no idea the drugs were there or what Brito was allegedly doing.
New York City health commissioner Ashwin Vasan said Divino Niño is a “home-based” child care site that opened under the official authority of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services.
Vasan said the New York City health department conducted three inspections at the day care on behalf of the state, with the most recent one being a “surprise” inspection earlier this month. No violations were found during the most recent visit.
“Those visits are there to verify identity, to assess safety, to look for essential equipment needed to provide basic child care, to look for things like proper egress and ingress, to look for things like proper ventilation,” Vasan said. “One of the things my child care inspectors are not trained to do is look to fentanyl, but maybe we need to start.”
Finn Hoogensen is a digital journalist who has covered local news for more than five years. He has been with PIX11 News since 2022. See more of his work here.