Man Pleads Guilty in Connection to Fentanyl Death of 1-Year-Old at NYC Day Care

Rachel Acenas
By Rachel Acenas
June 11, 2024US News
Man Pleads Guilty in Connection to Fentanyl Death of 1-Year-Old at NYC Day Care
Fentanyl and other narcotics that were discovered in a trap floor in the play area of the Divino Niño day care center in the Bronx borough of New York. A toddler died on Sept. 15, 2023, after he and three other young children were sickened by what officials said was exposure to fentanyl at the day care center. (Courtesy of NYPD News/X)

A man has pleaded guilty in connection to running an illegal “fentanyl mill” out of his wife’s day care in the Bronx last year. A one-year-old boy died, and three other children became sick after being exposed to the drugs.

Felix Herrera Garcia, 35, entered his plea on Monday, the same day his trial was set to begin in Manhattan Federal Court. The other main co-conspirator, 38-year-old Renny Antonio Parra Paredes, has also pleaded guilty.

Both men are accused of playing key roles in facilitating a fentanyl operation out of the Divino Niño Daycare Center. Between October 2022 and September 2023, the men conspired to distribute drugs such as fentanyl and heroin from the facility, according to a criminal complaint.

1-year-old Nicholas Dominici died after being exposed to the illegal narcotics. First responders administered Narcan, a nasal spray known to reverse an opioid overdose, to three others who became sick and unresponsive. All the sick children were under the age of three.

“We said at the time that this case shocks the conscience of the City, and now Herrera Garcia and Parra Paredes have been brought to justice for this heinous crime,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.

Prosecutors accused the pair of hiding a large quantity of fentanyl at the day care facility inside secret compartments under the playroom floor. Authorities found around 2.2 pounds of fentanyl on the mats where children napped, as well as a kilo press used to package large quantities of drugs.

Surveillance footage on the day the children became sick showed Mr. Garcia as he exited the day care facility out a back alley while he carried heavy shopping bags. He tried to outrun federal authorities but was caught and arrested in Mexico. He came back to the U.S. to face charges, prosecutors said.

His wife, Grei Mendez, alerted him first before she even called 911 about the sick children, according to prosecutors. She has also been charged in the case, along with Mr. Garcia’s cousin, Carlisto Acevedo Brito, who rented a room at the day care.

Mr. Garcia has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute narcotics resulting in death and serious bodily injury, one count of possession with intent to distribute narcotics resulting in death, and one count of possession with intent to distribute narcotics resulting in serious bodily injury.

All three counts carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

“Herrera Garcia has now been held accountable in the tragic loss of little Nicholas, the serious injury of Abel, and the harm to Kiara and Jaziel,” Bronx County District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said in a statement following his guilty plea.

He is set to be sentenced on Sept. 16.

The Bronx Supreme Court also indicted Mr. Garcia, his wife, and cousin in September on a litany of charges, including murder, manslaughter, and endangering the welfare of a child.

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