Investigators from the New York Police Department located a trap door in a Bronx day care center that contained large amounts of drugs days after multiple children were hospitalized after being exposed to opioids.
Police announced Thursday that officers executed a search warrant at Divino Nino Daycare.
“A large quantity of Fentanyl, other narcotics, & drug paraphernalia was recovered in a trap floor in the play area at the daycare center,” the NYPD said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
According to court records, authorities had already discovered a kilogram of fentanyl stored on play mats with a device to press drugs into bricks for sale.
Divino Nino Daycare made headlines last week after first responders arrived at the center after receiving reports of cardiac arrest. Nicholas Dominici, a 1-year-old at the day care, died of a suspected overdose.
Three other young children were hospitalized after being exposed to drugs. At least one of the three children who survived tested positive for fentanyl.
Owner Grei Mendez, 36, and her tenant Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41, were originally arrested on murder charges in connection to the death of Dominici. Brito is also the cousin of Mendez’s husband.
The defendants did not appear in criminal court, but their lawyers did, and the case is being continued until Oct. 5. A grand jury delivered an indictment on Thursday charging Mendez and Brito with Dominici’s death and the poisonings of the other three children.
The charges will remain sealed until the two appear for an arraignment at a later date, according to ABC 7 New York. Mendez and Brito remain in federal custody without bail in connection to federal drug trafficking charges. Mendez’s husband was caught on video fleeing out of the day care through the back alley, and the search for his whereabouts is ongoing, per court records.
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said they would get justice for the children.
“I may have not given birth to them, I may not have been parents who sent them to that day care center, but every single person in this county feels what they feel, that they entrusted day care center to take care of their children,” Clark said via ABC News.
Prosecutors said Mendez deleted 20,000 text messages from her phone before she was arrested, but investigators managed to recover them.
“The defendants’ alleged conduct that led to those poisonings is unconscionable, it’s inexcusable, and it’s the reason that they are now in federal custody,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said via ABC News.