The federal drug charges have been filed against the owner of the daycare centre in the Bronx, where a toddler died due to fentanyl exposure. The court documents on Tuesday suggest that she allegedly deleted over 20,000 messages to her husband, who is still at large and warned him about police looking for him. The owner has been accused of tipping off her husband, who is also wanted in connection with the case. The tragic incident has resulted in severe legal consequences for the daycare owner.
According to authorities, Grei Mendez De Ventura, who is 36 years old and runs the Divino Niño Daycare, along with her cousin-in-law, Carlisto Acevedo Brito, age 41, disguised their fentanyl drug mill by operating under the guise of a child care centre.
According to court documents, as authorities combed through the area in the aftermath of the tragic death of 1-year-old Nicholas Feliz Dominici, who reportedly died from inhaling a deadly opioid on Friday, De Ventura allegedly deleted a staggering 21,526 encrypted messages sent between March 2021 and September 15, 2023.
According to prosecutors who spoke in Manhattan federal court, the audacious incident occurred when De Ventura was seated at the 52nd Precinct stationhouse of the NYPD.
Upon recovering some of the deleted messages, it was discovered that De Ventura had informed her husband about the police’s inquiries and advised him to seek legal counsel.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Manhattan US Attorney Damian Williams expressed his shock at the dreadful case, stating that it had deeply affected the city’s conscience. The charges were announced during the press briefing.
Williams urged drug dealers to stop selling fentanyl or mixing it with other drugs without the knowledge of the buyers. He emphasized that this deadly substance ruins lives and will eventually ruin the lives of those caught, convicted and imprisoned in federal prison.
According to Frank Tarantino, the special agent responsible for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Division, the recent incident in the Bronx and the widespread fentanyl problem across the country should be a cause of great concern for all New Yorkers. He believes that every citizen should be outraged by these issues.
In a statement to reporters, he emphasized the lethal nature of Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid now pervasive and prevalent. He stressed that this drug, which is at least 50 times more potent than heroin, can instantly and indiscriminately claim lives. Its reach is far and wide, and its grip on society is alarming.
According to Tarantino, fentanyl poses the most pressing danger to our country.
According to court documents, law enforcement officials who searched for the Kingsbridge day care centre discovered a kilogram of fentanyl on top of the mats where children slept. Additionally, the officers found several kilo presses, which drug dealers often utilise with either cocaine or heroin.
According to federal authorities, three more children under three years of age were unintentionally exposed to the drug and hospitalized with severe injuries on Friday. The authorities have accused the defendants of being involved in a drug conspiracy that led to these unfortunate incidents.
According to prosecutors, De Ventura didn’t take immediate action when the children were exposed to the deadly drug. Instead, she called another daycare employee and her husband when she realized the children weren’t awake from their naps. Those precious seconds were crucial in saving the children’s lives.
According to the documents, she contacted her husband after her conversation with the 911 operator.
The surveillance footage reveals that he had arrived earlier than the police officers. It’s clear from the video that he had walked in with empty hands, but he left carrying two large shopping bags. He fled through a back alley, escaping successfully.
According to Williams, as of Tuesday afternoon, De Ventura’s husband, who is on the run, has not been apprehended by the authorities. However, they anticipate his arrest shortly.
The prosecutor made a bold statement, indicating that their efforts to prosecute the individual in question were far from over. “We’re not done,” the prosecutor declared. “We’re going to get him. Look out for more on that soon.” This statement suggests that the prosecutor is determined to see justice served and will continue to pursue the case until the perpetrator is held accountable for their actions.
Federal prosecutors have pressed charges of a single count of possessing narcotics with intent to distribute, leading to death, along with a conspiracy to distribute drugs that resulted in death.
Standing before the judge on Tuesday evening, De Ventura was dressed in tan jail garb and appeared to be sniffling. She glanced towards the second row of the gallery where her mother and eldest daughter, 18 years old and one of four children, were seated.
As Judge Jennifer Willis announced that the accused would be held without bail and would have to appear in court again in mid-October, the defendant’s reaction was shock and disbelief. She exclaimed, “Ay, no!” perhaps indicating her surprise at the severity of the ruling. It is anticipated that the defendant will enter a plea at the next hearing.
According to the US Attorney’s Office, De Ventura, a legal permanent resident but not a US citizen, could escape to the Dominican Republic, where she has family, if she is released from custody. The judge concurred with this assessment.
According to federal prosecutor Brandon Thompson, there is a possibility that the woman in question may also flee, especially since her husband has already done so.
According to De Ventura’s attorney, Clay Kaminsky, the erased messages from her phone potentially included personal and private photos and texts she had exchanged with her spouse. Kaminsky emphasized the importance of this information as a factor in the legal proceedings.
According to him, the call made by her to her husband lasted only 10 seconds and could have been made in a state of panic.
During the hearing, Kaminsky pleaded with the judge to set bail for his client but did not specify an amount. He argued that his client posed no flight risk, as her children live in New York, and there was no reason to believe she would abandon them.
He argued that it was unfair to accuse her of operating a fentanyl mill from a daycare. According to him, there is no concrete evidence to suggest that she was aware of or involved in the distribution of any drugs.
The attorney representing Brito agreed with the prosecution’s request for remand. Consequently, Brito was ordered to be held without bail.
De Ventura and Brito have already faced murder charges from Bronx prosecutors in connection with the death of Dominici. According to authorities, the young boy inhaled fentanyl released into the air while adults cut up drugs for sale.
According to the authorities, the three other children who fell ill were two young boys, aged two years old, and their 8-month-old sibling. They were admitted to the hospital on Friday, and one of the boys is currently in critical condition.
According to Mayor Eric Adams, the individuals were rescued using naloxone, a medication commonly referred to as Narcan and used to reverse the effects of an overdose. This happened on Monday.
De Ventura and Brito could be sentenced to life in prison if found guilty.
- 1-Year-Old Died and 3 Children Hospitalized Due to Suspected Fentanyl Ingestion at New York Daycare: Report
- Daycare employees were arrested for using “extreme force” and “cruel treatment” on kids.
- Fentanyl and guns were discovered in another NYC home with a child after the child died at daycare.
- The father of the NYC toddler who died from inhaling fentanyl at daycare hires an attorney as siblings express fear of going to school.