Exposure To Fentanyl Leads To Toddler Death: Signs Of Possible Neglect

On September 15, 2023, a one-year-old boy died from suspected fentanyl poisoning at a daycare facility in the Bronx, New York. Three other toddlers were sickened by fentanyl at the facility on the same day.

The facility is owned by a 36-year-old woman, whose husband was a fugitive from justice for about 10 days before the U.S. Marshal Service tracked him to Texas, where they received a tip that the man was hiding somewhere south in Mexico.

Authorities in Mexico, working with agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement agents and U.S. marshals, captured the man, who faces extradition to the U.S. and will become the fourth suspect charged in the case. The others are the daycare owner, the fugitive's cousin, and a non-relative accomplice – all facing federal drug charges of conspiracy to distribute narcotics resulting in death.

Inspection of the facility revealed drugs and paraphernalia stashed on top of children's play mats in the basement, and in two trap doors underneath where the toddlers ate, played, and slept.

On the day the owner found the children unresponsive at 2:29 p.m., she made three calls before calling police – one to a coworker and two to her husband. Then, at 2:52 p.m., she called 911, allegedly giving her husband enough time to rush to the daycare from the couple's apartment next door and to make off with bags believed to be filled with drugs, as captured in surveillance footage.

The suspects are in jail without bail. Federal prosecutors allege the owner deleted more than 21,000 messages exchanged with her husband before police arrived. The owner claims she "didn't know" about the drugs hidden in the daycare facility.

Her own two-year-old son had been treated for exposure to drugs in 2022 without law enforcement intervention. Larry Celona, Joe Marino, and Jorge Fitz-Gibbon "Husband of Bronx day care owner charged in toddler's fentanyl death nabbed in Mexico" https://nypost.com/2023/09/26/husband-of-nyc-day-care-owner-charged-in-toddlers-fentanyl-death-arrested-in-mexico/ (Sep. 26, 2023).


Commentary and Checklist

Possessing illegal drugs is, of course, a crime, and so is exposing children to illegal drugs that could, and do, fatally harm them. The owner in this article allowed the children who attended her daycare facility, including her own child, to be exposed to illegal and dangerous drugs stored onsite and to the drug activities of her relations and acquaintances.

Daycare facilities must be safe spaces for children. Exposing them to illegal drugs is a recognized sign of neglect. Neglect should be reported immediately to the local child protection agency.

What are other signs of possible neglect?

·  The parent or caregiver ignores the child's physical, emotional, medical/dental, psychological, or educational needs

·  Family cannot or will not care for the child.

·  The parent or caregiver lacks parenting skills.

·  The parent suffers from mental illness.

·  The child is living in inadequate housing without sufficient food, water, and heat and is improperly dressed for the weather.

·  Child is dirty, in poor physical health, dental disease, and always hungry.

·  The child has excessive absences at school.

·  The child is left alone for extended periods of time or is caring for younger siblings.

· Child is forced from the home or abandoned.

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