CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

NYPD finds trap door and drugs hidden in floor at Bronx day care

Sep 23, 2023, 8:00 AM

Authorities discovered a trap floor and drugs hidden in the Bronx day care center where a 1-year-ol...

Authorities discovered a trap floor and drugs hidden in the Bronx day care center where a 1-year-old boy died of a suspected fentanyl overdose, the NYPD said. Photo credit: From NYPD News/X

(CNN) — Authorities discovered a trap floor containing drugs, including fentanyl, inside a Bronx day care center where a 1-year-old boy died of a suspected fentanyl overdose last week, the New York Police Department announced Thursday.

The drugs were found Wednesday in the floor under a play area in the center after authorities got a search warrant to search the facility, the NYPD said. The drugs weighed roughly eight to 10 kilograms and were wrapped up in the form of bricks, according to a law enforcement official.

Police said they also discovered other narcotics, though they did not specify what types, as well as drug paraphernalia. Photos released by the NYPD of the trap floor show what appears to be a wooden makeshift door opened and substances wrapped up in baggies in the floorboards.

A New York City grand jury voted Thursday to indict Grei Mendez, 36, and Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41, two suspects in the deadly fentanyl overdose incident on September 15, according to Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark.

“A grand jury has returned a true bill, meaning that they’re now indicted for various charges,” Clark said. She did not specify what the charges were, noting the indictment was sealed but should be released publicly soon.

One-year-old Nicholas Dominici died after a suspected exposure to fentanyl last week at Divino Niño day care center.

Three other children – two 2-year-old boys and an 8-month-old girl – were hospitalized after being exposed to the suspected fentanyl and suffered acute opioid intoxication, CNN previously reported.

Investigators said they discovered a kilogram of fentanyl in an area where children napped at the day care center.

“More evidence has been recovered that leads to the conclusion that this was more than just a day care center,” Clark said Thursday.

Mendez and Brito, along with other co-conspirators ran a fentanyl distribution business from the building where the day care is located, according to Damian Williams, a US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Investigators believe the suspects were midlevel drug distributors tasked with cutting fentanyl with other drugs or household items including baby powder, a federal law enforcement official said.

Investigators say they are searching for a third male suspect who is believed to be Mendez’s husband.

The suspect, who has not been publicly named, appears on video leaving the center holding plastic bags detectives suspect contained fentanyl, authorities said.

Attorneys for Mendez, who is the day care center’s owner and operator, and Brito waived their clients’ appearance in a hearing Thursday and said their clients would not testify before the grand jury.

According to court documents, Brito is the cousin of Mendez’s husband and a tenant who lives in a bedroom within the day care.

A complaint filed in the Southern District of New York on Monday showed the suspects were federally charged with conspiracy to distribute narcotics resulting in death and possession with intent to distribute narcotics resulting in death.

Both Mendez and Brito face up to life in prison on the federal charges. Both suspects were previously charged in state court with murder, manslaughter, assault, endangering the welfare of a child and criminal possession of a controlled substance, court documents showed.

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NYPD finds trap door and drugs hidden in floor at Bronx day care