The death of a one-year-old boy at a New York City daycare center has been officially ruled a homicide by fentanyl overdose, the medical examiner’s office confirmed Friday.
Nicholas Feliz-Dominici died of acute fentanyl poisoning after being exposed to the drug at Divino Niño Daycare in the Bronx on September 15.
The daycare owner Grei Mendez De Venture, 36, along with her husband Felix Herrera Garcia, and two others have been charged in the toddler’s death.
The daycare allegedly acted as a front for a fentanyl trafficking operation in the building’s basement, which led to Nicholas’ death and injuries to three other children.
It comes as it previously emerged that The Venture had taken her own two-year-old child out of nursery over fears he was showing signs of exposure to the drug.
Nicholas Feliz-Dominici, 1, died after being exposed to fentanyl at his daycare in the Bronx
Grei Mendez De Venture has been arrested in connection with the death of one boy and the poisoning of three others after they were exposed to fentanyl at her Bronx daycare
Felix Herrera Garcia was pictured fleeing the Divino Niño daycare center with two full shopping bags as children lay poisoned inside
She kept the facility open and failed to report her concerns to police after removing her own son, sources said ABC news.
The Venture is currently facing 11 charges in connection with the death of one-year-old Nicholas Feliz-Dominici, who died on September 15 after exposure to fentanyl in daycare.
Three other children, two two-year-old boys and an eight-month-old girl, were also poisoned but survived.
Her fugitive husband, Garcia, who fled south across the border as children lay suffering there, has now also been charged after being driven from Mexico.
Garcia was returned to the US on Wednesday after being stranded on a bus through Sinaloa following an 11-day international manhunt.
He made his first appearance in federal court in San Diego yesterday before traveling to New York to face federal charges.
In the complaint against him, authorities said his wife called him before he called 911 when the children became sick.
Security camera footage showed Garcia entering the daycare and leaving with two full shopping bags.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said Garcia “fled the daycare while the children he left there suffered from his toxic trade.”
Mendez then deleted more than 21,000 text messages she had exchanged with her husband, according to prosecutors.
The couple is charged along with Garcia’s cousin Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41, and Renny Antonio Parra Paredes, 38, who is suspected of narcotics distribution.
Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41, who helped run the daycare, is one of four people charged in connection with the poisonings
Authorities say the four used the daycare as a front for a drug trafficking ring.
A search turned up sieves, tape, a grinder, plastic bags, a digital scale and two clear bags filled with a “grayish powder,” as well as a “rectangular, brick-shaped package that appeared to contain narcotics.”
Subsequent searches also revealed a trap door leading to a stash of drugs just steps away from shelves of children’s toys.
The case illustrates the growing threat of fentanyl in New York, which is now the most common cause of fatal overdoses in the city.
The synthetic opioid was found in 80 percent of overdose deaths in 2021 and was responsible for 1,868 fatalities, according to the latest data from NYC Health.
At a press conference after the child poisoning, Mayor Eric Adams promised a “full national attack” on the drug coming into the city.
Meanwhile, the police have recovered ghost weapons, untraceable weapons, that were made on 3D printers from a second daycare center.
Police swarmed the East Harlem home where the company was located and arrested three people in connection. CNN reports.
The 18-year-old son of the daycare owner, Karon Jamal Coley, was charged with gun charges along with two other minors, whose details were not provided.