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Man pleads guilty in death of toddler who was exposed to fentanyl at NYC day care

In World
June 11, 2024

The husband of the owner of a New York City day care center where a toddler died and three others were sickened after having been exposed to fentanyl pleaded guilty to federal charges Monday.

Felix Herrera Garcia, 35, his wife, and two others were charged in connection with the Sept. 15 poisoning of four children at the Divino Niño day care center in the Bronx.

Herrera Garcia, who was captured in Mexico after fleeing, was scheduled to begin trial on Monday but pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute narcotics resulting in death, and possession with intent to distribute narcotics resulting in death, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said in a news release.

Nicholas Dominici, who was 22 months old, died and two other children were found unresponsive at the center, where prosecutors said “a fentanyl mill” was being run.

A third child was lethargic and not responsive at home after having been picked up.

Three of the children had to be given the opioid overdose reversal drug Naloxone, known as Narcan, according to a criminal complaint.

Herrera Garcia’s wife, Grei Mendez, who owns the center, called 911 but only after calling her husband.

Video showed Herrera Garcia walking from the building next door, entering the day care and leaving through a back alley with two shopping bags weighed down with items before first responders arrived, according to an affidavit filed with the criminal complaint.

A side by side of Garcia exiting the daycare out a back alley carrying what appears to be two shopping bags weighted with contents before traversing through overgrown grass and bushes to exit the area. (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York)

A side by side of Garcia exiting the daycare out a back alley carrying what appears to be two shopping bags weighted with contents before traversing through overgrown grass and bushes to exit the area. (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York)

Between October 2022 and September 2023, Herrera Garcia, Renny Antonio Parra Paredes and others conspired to distribute fentanyl, heroin, and para-fluorofentanyl, a synthetic opioid, from the day care center, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Prosecutors accused Herrera Garcia and Parra Paredes of hiding a large quantity of fentanyl at the day care, including more than 10 kilograms stored inside “traps,” or secret compartments, located beneath the floor of the playroom. Authorities also said a kilogram of fentanyl was kept on children’s sleeping mats and a kilo press was found at the day care.

Trap door with bags (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York)

Trap door with bags (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York)

Parra Paredes, 38, pled guilty in May to conspiring to distribute narcotics.

“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 Monday.

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

Herrera Garcia and Parra Paredes each face a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

An attorney for Herrera Garcia declined to comment on Tuesday. Parra Paredes’ attorney said his client pleaded guilty “because he wanted to accept his responsibility for what happened” and “feels terrible about what happened to the children.”

Mendez and the fourth defendant, Carlisto Acevedo Brito, were charged in September with federal counts of narcotics possession with intent to distribute resulting in death and conspiracy to distribute narcotics resulting in death.

Herrera Garcia, Mendez and Brito were also indicted in the Bronx Supreme Court in September for murder, manslaughter, criminal possession of a controlled substance, assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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