The NYPD is hunting a man believed to be “the main player” in the covert drug-dealing operation at a Bronx day care where a 1-year-old boy died from suspected fentanyl exposure, police sources said Monday.
The suspect — the husband of Grei Mendez De Ventura, 36, the proprietor of Divino Niño Daycare — may have played a key role in the illicit dealings uncovered after the Friday death of little Nicholas Feliz Dominici, the sources said.
He is also the cousin of alleged cohort Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41, who was busted Sunday along with De Ventura.
Brito lived in the basement that also housed the day-care business, where three other children were also exposed to the deadly drug, the sources said.
Those children — two 2-year-old boys and the 8-month-old sister of one of them — were hospitalized, with one in critical condition, according to police.
De Ventura and Brito were charged with murder, manslaughter, assault, drug possession and child endangerment in connection to the disturbing case.
Both were ordered held without bail during their arraignments Sunday night.
Cops responded to a 911 call from the child care center on Morris Avenue near East 196th Street in Kingsbridge shortly after 3:30 p.m. Friday and found three of the children unresponsive — allegedly after being exposed to fentanyl, according to cops.
At least some of the children were administered the opioid overdose reversal medication Narcan to try to save them.
Nicholas was rushed to Montefiore Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
His grief-stricken mother told CBS New York in Spanish that her son, who was going to turn 2 in November, was just getting adjusted to the day care, which he had only started attending the week before his tragic death and which is located within walking distance of the family’s home.
“We spoke to the ones who are in charge,” she said. “They recommended that place and apparently complied with all of the rules. We were on a waitlist for our son to qualify.”
The boy, who was the youngest of five children, was “so intelligent,” his mom said.
“He would repeat everything you would say to him,” she added. “He had so much love. Everyone who knew him appreciated him, all of our neighbors.”
Among the other children hospitalized, one of the 2-year-old boys was listed in critical condition while the 8-month-old girl was in stable condition.
The third toddler was taken to BronxCare Health Systems by an acquaintance and was also listed in stable condition.
Authorities found three “kilogram press devices” — used to package large amounts of drugs — along with a kilo of fentanyl at the day care, prosecutors revealed in court filings.
They also discovered a one-kilogram package of a white, powdery substance — which later tested positive for fentanyl — inside a hallway closet, the court documents state.
De Ventura is due back in court Thursday, and Brito on Friday, the Bronx District Attorney’s Office said.
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