By Mark Morales, CNN
New York (CNN) — A third person has been arrested and charged in connection with the death of a 1-year-old boy who was exposed to the highly potent drug fentanyl at a Bronx day care, where large quantities of the narcotic were stored under a trap floor in a room where children played and slept, according to federal prosecutors.
Authorities identified the man as Renny Antonio Parra Paredes, 38, and charged him Monday in US District Court in Manhattan with one count of conspiracy to distribute narcotics resulting in death.
CNN has reached out to Paredes’ attorney for comment.
While a third person is now in custody, law enforcement officials are still looking for the husband of one of the arrested co-conspirators, who was seen on surveillance running from the day care center after the overdoses with plastic bags that authorities believe contain fentanyl.
“Today’s arrest is one more step toward obtaining justice for the child-victims of this heinous offense and their families,” US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said.
One-year-old Nicholas Dominici died after the suspected fentanyl exposure earlier this month at Divino Niño day care center. Three other children – two 2-year-old boys and an 8-month-old girl – were hospitalized after being exposed to the suspected fentanyl and suffered acute opioid intoxication.
Paredes, who was arrested Saturday in an apartment in the Bronx, allegedly conspired to distribute fentanyl, including at the day care center, from at least July of 2023, authorities said.
Paredes and his alleged co-conspirators, Grei Mendez and Carlisto Acevedo Brito, stored the drugs at the day care – including a kilo of fentanyl on children’s playmats, according to a criminal complaint.
They also kept the drugs, and materials to package the narcotics, in hidden compartments known as “traps” in the room where children played and slept, according to the complaint. Those distribution materials included glassine envelopes with the words “Red Dawn” stamped on the front, according to the complaint.
Investigators were able to trace phone calls and text messages from Mendez and Brito that led them to Paredes, according to the complaint. When investigators went into the apartment to arrest Paredes, they found a shopping bag loaded with tools needed to distribute narcotics, including strainers, tape, plastic bags, digital scales and more glassine envelopes with “Red Dawn” stamped on the front, investigators said. After some more digging, investigators found the stamp itself, according to the complaint.
Investigators believe the suspects were midlevel drug distributors tasked with cutting fentanyl with other drugs or household items including baby powder, a federal law enforcement official told CNN last week.
Paredes had an “an instrumental role” in the conspiracy, and in connection with Nicholas’ death and the exposure of the three other children to the drug, DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank A. Tarentino III said in a statement.
“Traffickers often hide contraband in inconspicuous or unsuspecting locations with no regard for the safety of others,” Tarentino III said in a statement. “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.”
Paredes faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted, officials said.
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