The owner of the daycare centre in the Bronx where a one-year-old boy died and other children fell ill from suspected fentanyl exposure have been charged with murder.
Divino Nino owner Grei Mendez De Ventura, 36, and his neighbour Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41, were arrested on Saturday night. They are each facing 11 charges, including child endangerment and criminal possession of a controlled substance, according to The New York Post.
Daycare staff called 911 after finding children unresponsive after their nap on Friday.
A two-year-old boy is in critical condition, while another two-year-old boy and an eight-month-old girl are both in stable condition. The one-year-old boy was pronounced dead at the scene.
A fourth child, another two-year-old boy, who was picked up from the daycare earlier in the day on Friday also appeared to have been exposed to drugs. He was taken to a hospital and is in stable condition, police said.
All four children seemed to have been exposed to an opioid, officials said, according to the New York Times.
These suspicions, police said, arose after assessing the hospitalised children’s symptoms in combination with the discovery of a “kilo press” found at the daycare centre.
“This is an item that is commonly used by drug dealers when packaging large quantities of drugs,” police explained.
Last Friday concluded the one-year-old’s first week at the daycare, according to the child’s father Otoniel Feliz.
Mr Feliz told the Post that he initially thought his son was sick from carbon monoxide poisoning.
“It was a peaceful place, it seemed like they would take good care [of the kids]. They always keep in contact with us. Everything seemed fine,” he said.
“We expected that we were taking our son to a place where he would be taken care of, not to the funeral home,” Mr Feliz said.