New York

A Trap Door Hid a Cache of Narcotics at the Day Deva Where Child Died

Days after a 1-year-old died and three children exposed to drugs at a Bronx day care site were hospitalized, investigators uncovered a trap door under a play area that was hiding fentanyl, other narcotics and drug paraphernalia.

The police had already discovered a kilogram of fentanyl near nap mats at Divino Niño on Morris Avenue, but the new search was triggered by a tip that there were more drugs hidden under a trap door, Lt. John Russo said on Thursday. A neighbor had said last week that the owners of the facility had spent months sprucing it up — including laying down new floors.

On Saturday, the day care program’s operator, Grei Mendez, and a tenant, Carlisto Acevedo Brito, who lived in the apartment, were both arrested and charged with murder in the death of the toddler, Nicholas Feliz Dominici, as well as criminal possession of drugs and other related charges. In addition to the kilogram, the police had already recovered pair of so-called kilo presses used by drug dealers to package large quantities of drugs.

As of Thursday afternoon, the medical examiner’s office had not made a determination as to the cause of Nicholas’s death following an autopsy on Saturday. Fentanyl was found in the systems of the three children who were sickened.

Ms. Mendez was renting a room to Mr. Acevedo Brito, who is her husband’s cousin, for $200 a week, her lawyer said at her arraignment on Sunday. The police are still searching for a third person wanted in the case, Lieutenant Russo said on Thursday.

Ms. Mendez’s lawyer, Andres Aranda, said there was no indication she knew anything about the drugs. “Her only crime is renting a room,” he said during the arraignment.

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