Fourth Defendant Charged with Federal Narcotics Offenses Resulting in Death in Connection with Poisoning of Four Children at a Bronx Daycare
Herrera Garcia Attempted to Outrun Federal Authorities but Was Apprehended in Mexico and Returned to the United States for Prosecution
NEW YORK CITY - Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Anne Milgram, the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Edward A. Caban, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department, announced today the unsealing of a criminal Complaint in Manhattan federal court charging Felix Herrera Garcia with conspiracy to distribute narcotics resulting in death in connection with the poisoning of four children under the age of three, one of whom died, at a daycare facility in the Bronx. Herrera Garcia is in custody and will be presented today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael S. Berg, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Last night, Felix Herrera was arrested for his alleged role in running a fentanyl mill hidden inside a Bronx daycare, which caused the tragic death of a one-year-old boy and seriously injured three other children. Herrera’s arrest on the other side of the nation reflects our tireless pursuit of Herrera, who fled the daycare even as the children he abandoned inside were suffering from his poisonous trade. As I vowed in the wake of this horrific crime, Herrera’s arrest demonstrates once again that my Office and our dedicated law enforcement partners will stop at nothing to bring those who contribute to the deadly opioid crisis, which impacts even our most vulnerable community members, to justice.”
DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said: “Let me be clear: when it comes to protecting our communities and seeking justice, there are no boundaries, no safe havens, and no stones left unturned. This case is a stark reminder of the evil we face. The DEA will stop at nothing, and we will relentlessly pursue those responsible, no matter where they hide."
NYPD Police Commissioner Edward A. Caban said: “New York City law enforcement has a very long reach, and anyone who participates in the distribution of fentanyl in our communities will be held fully accountable – no matter where they run and try to hide. Today's charges reflect abhorrent criminality that will always be intolerable here, and the NYPD and our dedicated state and federal partners vow to investigate and arrest all those responsible for this proliferating threat.”
As alleged in the Complaint:
From at least in or about July 2023 through at least in or about September 2023, Felix Herrera Garcia and others, including Grei Mendez, Carliston Acevedo Brito, and Renny Parra Paredes, a/k/a “El Gallo,” conspired to distribute fentanyl, including at a children’s daycare center in the Bronx, New York (the “Daycare”). There, despite the daily presence of children, including infants, Herrera Garcia and his co-conspirators maintained large quantities of narcotics, including a kilogram of fentanyl stored on top of children’s playmats and large quantities of suspected narcotics in hidden compartments known as “traps” located in the floor of the room in which the children played and slept. Also found in the daycare were materials used to package narcotics, including three “kilo presses.”
As a consequence of the drug conspiracy engaged in by Herrera Garcia and his co-conspirators, on or about September 15, 2023, four children at the Daycare, who were all under three years of age, appear to have experienced the effects of poisoning from exposure to fentanyl. Three of the children were hospitalized with serious injuries. The fourth child, a one-year-old boy, died.
Immediately prior to calling 911 to report that the children in her care were unresponsive, Mendez – Herrera Garcia’s wife – called Herrera Garcia twice. The first phone call went unanswered, the second phone call lasted just over 10 seconds. Then, only minutes before emergency personal arrived at the scene, surveillance footage shows Herrera Garcia walking swiftly from the building next door to the Daycare, where he and Mendez resided, and into the Daycare. When Herrera Garcia entered the Daycare, he was empty-handed. Approximately two minutes later, Herrera Garcia exited the Daycare again moving swiftly, but carrying what appears to be two shopping bags weighted with contents. Instead of exiting through the front door, Herrera Garcia exited out a back alley. And instead of following the paved alleyway behind the Daycare’s building, Herrera Garcia hurried through overgrown grass and bushes to exit the area.
Furthermore, Mendez deleted approximately 21,526 messages from an encrypted messaging application on which she had exchanged messages with Herrera Garcia between approximately on or about March 30, 2021, and September 15, 2023. However, messages that have been recovered reveal that while Mendez was with members of law enforcement later on September 15, 2023, following the incident at the Daycare, Mendez informed Herrera Garcia that law enforcement was asking questions about him, including questions regarding his whereabouts. Herrera Garcia instructed Mendez to tell law enforcement, among other things, that he was working.
Herrera Garcia had been at large since he fled out the back alley behind the Daycare on September 15, 2023. He was apprehended by Mexican authorities working in coordination with U.S. law enforcement and arrested last night upon entry to the United States.
Herrera Garcia, 34, of the Bronx, New York, is charged in Count One with conspiracy to distribute narcotics resulting in death and in Count Two with possession with intent to distribute narcotics resulting in death. Both Count One and Count Two carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The statutory minimum and maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEA, the NYPD, the SDNY Digital Forensic Unit, the Complex Analytical and Social Media Enhancement Team at the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”) New York Strike Force. Mr. Williams also thanked the NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force of the U.S. Marshals Service (“USMS”); the USMS Office of International Operations; the USMS for the Southern District of New York; the USMS for the Southern District of Texas; the USMS for the Southern District of California; the USMS Mexico Field Office; the USMS Investigative Operations Division; the DEA Resident Office in Allentown, Pennsylvania; the DEA District Office in McAllen, Texas; the DEA Country Office in Mexico City, Mexico; the DEA Resident Office in Hermosillo, Mexico; the DEA Resident Office in Monterrey, Mexico; the DEA Special Operations Division; the NYPD 52nd Precinct Detective Squad; the NYPD Bronx Homicide Squad; the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and Mexican authorities.
The OCDETF New York Strike Force provides for the establishment of permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location. This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations. The specific mission of the New York Strike Force is to target, disrupt, and dismantle drug trafficking and money laundering organizations, reduce the illegal drug supply in the United States, and bring criminals to justice. The Strike Force is affiliated with the DEA’s New York Division and includes agents and officers of the DEA; NYPD; New York State Police; Homeland Security Investigations; U.S. Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; New York National Guard; U.S. Coast Guard; New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision; Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office; Fort Lee Police Department; Palisades Interstate Parkway Police; Teaneck Police Department; Hillsdale Police Department; Closter Police Department; Northvale Police Department; River Vale Police Department; Englewood Police Department; Saddle River Police Department; Bergen County Sheriff’s Department; Hawthorne Police Department; and Hackensack Police Department.
This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brandon C. Thompson and Maggie Lynaugh are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.