Bronx daycare owner, accomplice hit with fed charges after baby fentanyl death

The owner of a Bronx daycare where a 1-year-old boy died of suspected fentanyl exposure is now facing federal drug charges, along with his accused accomplice, officials said Tuesday.

Federal prosecutors have hit El Divino Nino daycare owner Grei Mendez, 36, and Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41, with charges of narcotics possession with intent to distribute resulting in death and conspiracy to distribute narcotics resulting in death, officials from the Southern District of New York confirmed.

The two are already facing charges in Bronx Criminal Court of murder and attempted murder in the death of 1-year-old Nicholas Feliz-Dominici and for allowing three other tots at the daycare to overdose on fentanyl — a disturbing scenario that Mayor Adams said shocked him to the core.

Theodore Parisienne for New York Daily News

Carlisto Acevedo Brito is taken from the NYPD’s 52nd Precinct stationhouse in the Bronx Sunday.

“Some parts of this job, it just rips you apart,” Adams said at an unrelated press conference Tuesday. “This is not all cutting ribbons and making announcements. There’ve been some very painful moments of being older and that was one of the most painful, when I went to that daycare center.”

The two suspects had stashed the deadly opioid in the day care center’s nap room, near where the children lay down, cops said Monday.

Little Nicholas and two other young children were put down to rest in the room at Morris Ave. day care near E. 196th St. in Fordham Manor around 1 pm Friday, cops said.

About an hour and a half later, they began experiencing overdose symptoms. Police responding to a 911 call for the ailing children would later find a kilogram of fentanyl stashed beneath one of the mats the children used for sleeping, NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said Monday.

Courtesy of Family

Nicholas Feliz-Dominici died of a suspected fentanyl overdose.

“I spoke with the father of the baby we lost,” Adams said. “I went to the hospital that night to speak with the mom and dad of the three who were there. One of the babies, they were in one of the cribs next door from his sibling. And just looking at that baby laying on that crib, it rips your heart out.”

Brito had been living in a rented room inside the day care, where investigators also found two kilo-press devices used for packaging drugs, cops said.

Police are seen on Morris Ave where on Sept. 15, 2023, at least one child died as a result of coming into contact with a poisonous substance, now thought to be fentanyl, in the Divino Nino Day Care.

Sam Costanza for New York Daily News

Police on Morris Ave. where on Friday a baby died of suspected fentanyl exposure at the Divino Nino daycare.

Investigators with the city Health Department found no evidence of drugs or of anyone besides Mendez residing at the day care despite multiple inspections that included a surprise visit from city health inspectors on Sept. 6, according to Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan.

A third suspect, identified by sources as Mendez’s husband, remains on the loose, cops said.

Southern District of New York Attorney Andre Damian Williams Jr. is pictured during press conference at his offices located at 1 St. Andrews Plaza Tuesday September 19, 2023. During the press conference accompanied by New York DEA boss (Drug Enforcement Administration) Frank Tarantino, SDNY Attorney Williams announced Federal Drug charges against Bronx Day Care Operators Grei Mendez De Ventura, the day care owner, her accomplice Carlisto Acevedo Brito and the still being sought unidentified husband for the poisoning of three babies under their care with the deadly drug fentanyl. (Luiz C. Ribeiro for NY Daily News)

Luiz C. Ribeiro for NY Daily News

Southern District of New York Attorney Andre Damian Williams Jr., left, is pictured during a press conference at his Manhattan office on Tuesday Sept. 19, 2023. At right is New York DEA head Frank Tarantino.

Adams bashed a world where overdose-reversing drugs like Narcan will need to be as readily available as Band-Aids.

“We have to carry around narcan to prevent our children from overdosing,” Adams said. “If that is not an indictment on our society, how far we’ve gone from who we should be? “We had fentanyl in a daycare center.”

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