1 of 3 | During a search of a residence that suspect Renny Antonio Parra Paredes said he was staying at, police found a "RED DAWN" stamp, a marking that was found on envelopes at the daycare were four children suffered fentanyl overdoses. Photo courtesy of Justice Department.
Sept. 26 (UPI) -- A third person has been arrested and charged with federal drug offenses in connection to a daycare operated out of a Bronx apartment where earlier this month four children under the age of three suffered fentanyl overdoses, including a 1-year-old boy who died.
Renny Antonio Parra Paredes, 38, of the Bronx, New York, was arraigned Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ona Wang on one count of conspiring to distribute narcotics resulting in death, which carries a sentence between 20 years to life in prison.
Prosecutors accuse Paredes of playing of a fundamental role in the narcotics operation that was operated from the Divino Niño daycare center where three children were found unresponsive on Sept. 15 and were rushed to the hospital, including the child who died. A fourth child who had been picked up from the daycare a few hours earlier was also taken to the hospital after becoming lethargic and unresponsive. They all suffered from fentanyl poisoning.
Grei Mendez, the owner of the Bronx daycare, and Carlisto Acevedo Brito, who lived in the apartment's bedroom and a purported cousin to Mendez's husband, have already been charged. Police also appear to be searching for Mendez's unidentified spouse.
Police have said Mendez called her husband before contacting 911 about the unresponsive children at her daycare. Surveillance footage captures the man entering the building where the daycare is located prior to police arriving on the scene and leaving with bags authorities believe may contain evidence.
Authorities have found large quantities of narcotics in the daycare, including stashed in the floor where children played and slept and in a closet next to the center's bathroom. Among the narcotics, officers found glassine envelopes used to sell drugs stamped with "RED DAWN" in red ink.
The indictment unsealed Monday states a search of Brito's phone uncovered encrypted conversations he had with Paredes, who is also known as "El Gallo." Location data for Paredes' cellphone obtained with a warrant indicates that he was in the vicinity of the daycare every day for weeks prior to the poisoning of the four children and that he has not been back since.
Paredes was arrested early Friday, and investigators said that he lied during an interview about the frequency with which he visited the daycare.
Authorities also searched an apartment he said he was staying at, and found two bags containing items and tools used to prepare and distribute narcotics, including a "RED DAWN" stamp and empty glassine envelopes bearing that mark.
"Based on my training and experience, I know that participants in the same narcotics conspiracy frequently use the same stamps to advertise their particular brand to customers," the indictment said.
Tape, a digital scale and ziplock bags filled with a grey powder believed to be narcotics were also found, the court document states.
"I promised last week that we would continue to work to bring those involved in the child poisonings at Divino Niño daycare to justice," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York said in a statement. "Today's arrest is one more step toward obtaining justice for the child-victims of this heinous offense and their families."