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The husband of the Bronx daycare owner who has been charged in the fentanyl-related death of a baby has been arrested in Mexico following an 11-day international manhunt.
Felix Herrera Garcia, believed to be from the Dominican Republic, was arrested in Mexico on a bus traveling through Sinaloa, ABC News reported.
He will be extradited back to the United States to face trial alongside his wife, Grei Mendez De Ventura, 36, and his cousin, Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41.
A fourth person, Renny Antonio Parra Paredes, 38, has also been charged.
Herrera was seen escaping from the daycare shortly after four children fell seriously ill on September 15, having ingested fentanyl.
He was carrying plastic bags, fleeing from a back door – and then vanished.
One-year-old Nicholas Feliz Dominici died after ingesting fentanyl at the Divino Niño Daycare. Three other children were taken to hospital.
Herrera was described by sources, who spoke to the New York Post, as the ‘main player’ in an alleged drug operation run out of the daycare’s basement.
The husband of the Bronx daycare owner who has been charged in the fentanyl-related death of a baby was seen escaping the area on September 15. He was arrested in Mexico
Felix Herrera Garcia looks casual as he walks through a grassy area in ripped jeans and a black Levi’s shirt while holding the bags, which seem to be full
The man was last seen leaving the daycare with plastic bags on September 15. He vanished for around a week, then was discovered on a bus in Sinaloa, Mexico.
Nicholas Feliz Dominici (pictured) , 1, died at Divino Niño Daycare on September 15
Authorities have already charged Grei Mendez De Ventura, 36, (pictured), Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41, and Renny Antonio Parra Paredes, 38, in relation to the poisonings
Mendez reportedly called her husband twice and then deleted more than 21,000 messages before alerting the authorities to the unresponsive children.
Mendez and Brito were charged with murder, assault and child endangerment a day after Nicholas and three other children were found critically ill at the childcare facility.
Nicholas was pronounced dead at the scene, with two boys, 2, and an eight-month-old baby girl were saved with overdose-reversal drug Narcan.
Authorities claim the business was a front for a drug-peddling operation, with Mendez and Brito remaining behind bars.
Manhattan federal prosecutors say that Paredes had ‘tools and instruments that are used to prepare and distribute narcotics’ at his apartment.
During the raid, they found strainers, tape, a grinder, plastic bags, digital scales and two clear bags filled with a ‘greyish powder’.
Pictured: Nicholas Feliz-Dominici, 1, died on September 15 after ingesting fentanyl at a Bronx day care
De Ventura’s alleged co-conspirator Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41, (pictured) kept his head down as he left NYC’s 52nd precinct after also being arrested in connection to the overdose
Law enforcement sources told the New York Post the NYPD and the Regional Fugitive Task Force are following up on leads that he may have fled to the Dominican Republic
Officers also found a ‘rectangular, brick-shaped package which appeared to contain narcotics.’
Paredes was arrested on Saturday, and is being held in custody without bail. Mendez and Brito also remain behind bars.
Last week, officers found a cache of drugs hidden under a trap door at the nursery, including a large quantity of fentanyl.
Other paraphernalia, which matched what was found in Paredes’s apartment, was also concealed by the plywood and tile flooring.
In the aftermath, photos shared by police showed bags full of powder inside the ‘trap floor,’ a few steps away from a shelf of children’s toys.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: ‘I promised last week that we would continue to work to bring those involved in the child poisonings at Divino Niño daycare to justice.
‘Since then, this Office and our law enforcement partners have worked around the clock to identify and apprehend additional individuals who are responsible.
‘Today’s arrest is one more step toward obtaining justice for the child-victims of this heinous offense and their families.’
Before discovering the hidden stash, officers had already confiscated a kilogram of fentanyl that was stored near mats that children used for sleeping.
Last week officers found a cache of drugs hidden under a trap door at the nursery, including a large quantity of fentanyl
Law enforcement sources believe that the basement under the day care where Brito lived was actually a front for drugs
They also found multiple devices used by traffickers for mixing drugs and pressing it into bricks.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Joe Kenny said last week ‘one grain, two grains of fentanyl can take down a grown man so even the residue itself for a small child, would cause the death.’
According to reports, there were no previous complaints made against Divino Nino Daycare.
The daycare has a capacity of eight children between the ages of six weeks to 12 years old, records show.
Nicholas’ heartbroken father, Otoniel Feliz, 32, told DailyMail.com it had been the boy’s first week at the day care.
‘We had a good recommendation. We were told it was a great place. It looked like a nice place,’ he explained.
But within one week of being cared for at the daycare, Nicholas ingested fentanyl – a substance that has caused a spike in overdoses across the U.S.
Otoniel said they’d been given a tour of the daycare the first time they dropped their son off and it looked like any other, with toys and kids’ furniture inside.
They also found multiple devices used by traffickers for mixing drugs and pressing it into bricks
US Attorney for the Southern District, Damian Williams announced the new charges against a third person
Paredes was arrested on Saturday, and is being held in custody without bail. Mendez and Brito also remain behind bars
But after enrolling their son, Otoniel and his wife were never allowed to come back in their son often being brought to them by their caretakers, he claimed.
‘Parents don’t have permission to go inside. You see it on the first day to see where your son will be, but after that you don’t have permission to go in,’ he claimed.
‘They said they ‘don’t want contamination from the outside to go inside because they keep everything clean,’ that’s what they said.
‘My wife called me saying our child is going to hospital. We thought he was fine, 10 minutes later, my wife called me back on the way to the hospital and said he died.’
Divino Nino Daycare passed its annual unannounced inspection with zero violations on September 6, city records note after receiving its license in May.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank A. Tarentino III said: ‘As alleged, Paredes had an instrumental role in this conspiracy and is charged with narcotics distribution and death in connection with the poisoning of four children.
‘The alleged drugs and materials seized in the trap are indicative of a prolific drug packaging operation.
‘Traffickers often hide contraband in inconspicuous or unsuspecting locations with no regard for the safety of others.
‘In this case, the Daycare’s floorboards were used as concealment, putting children’s lives at risk who innocently sat on the floor to play.
Police tape had been stripped from the street and hung across the doorway of the Divino Nino Daycare on Morris Avenue
Frank A. Tarentino III (pictured) Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Division said the traffickers had hidden contraband with ‘no regard for the safety of others’
‘I reiterate that DEA and our law enforcement partners will continue to pursue justice for all members of this trafficking ring.’
The National Institute on Drug Abuse describes Fentanyl as a powerful synthetic opioid that is FDA-approved to treat severe pain.
Over the past decade fentanyl has been made and distributed illegally and other illegally made synthetic opioids have been increasingly found in the drug supply.
During this time fentanyl and related substances have contributed to a dramatic rise in drug overdose deaths in the United States.
The rate of drug overdose deaths involving the synthetic opioid fentanyl more than tripled in the United States from 2016 through 2021, according to a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Fentanyl is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, and has increasingly been mixed with other illicit drugs often with lethal results.
The CDC report showed that the rate of drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl increased from 5.7 per 100,000 people in 2016 to 21.6 per 100,000 in 2021.
Fentanyl-related deaths rose by about 55% in 2019-2020, and 24.1% in 2020-2021, said Merianne Rose Spencer, one of the report’s authors.