Bronx daycare death: 40 pounds of fentanyl found with suspect tied to fatal incident that claimed 1-year-old baby’s life

The drugs and paraphilia sized from the Bronx apartment of Juan Gabriel Herrera Vargas.
The fentanyl and paraphilia sized from the Bronx apartment of Juan Gabriel Herrera Vargas.
Photo courtesy of the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York

Authorities seized over 40 pounds of fentanyl from an alleged drug mill in the Bronx connected to the daycare center where a 1-year old child died from exposure to the deadly opioid earlier this month. 

The Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York announced Thursday results of the Sept. 26 bust, during which they recovered $1.5 million worth of fentanyl and arrested Juan Gabriel Herrera Vargas, an alleged drug dealer involved in the racket — charging him with operating as a major drug trafficker.

According to investigators, authorities attempted to arrest Herrera Vargas while he was leaving the Kingsbridge Road subway station at 4:40 p.m. on Sept. 26, with a suitcase in tow that was allegedly contained 13 kilogram bricks of suspected fentanyl.

The suspect momentarily cooperated with police and handed over his wallet to cops, but then he made a run for it — fleeing custody and evading uniformed officers. 

Police kept up the chase, though, and found Herrera Vargas exiting an apartment building at 2800 Heath Ave. at around 8:40 p.m. Tuesday evening.

Agents swiftly arrested him and seized approximately 50,000 glassines bundled together into 25 larger packages from inside a different suitcase he was carrying.

As the investigation unfolded, agents and officers conducted a thorough search of the building, and uncovered a kilogram of suspected fentanyl, six pounds of loose powder, 10,000 filled glassines, and various materials used for packaging narcotics such as grinders, scales, glassines, stamps, and rubber bands. 

The back bedroom was particularly telling, as it contained a glass table set up for packaging narcotics and additional fentanyl.

“The conduct charged is shockingly brazen, especially in a city still grieving the overdose death of a young child who lost his life at a nearby daycare center,” said Brennan. “The defendant is charged with transporting almost 30 pounds of fentanyl bricks in a rolling suitcase on a subway, through a subway station, and on the sidewalks of a busy Bronx neighborhood.”

Nicholas Dominici, a 1-year-old child, died of fentanyl poisoning after his exposure at the Divino Nino day care, where investigators said they found fentanyl atop a pile of children’s play mats, and a trapdoor beneath the play area that contained more drugs.

“The public outcry after the poisoning death of a toddler was not enough to stop a drug mill from operating just six blocks away from that daycare,” DEA’s Frank Tarentino said. “Trafficking organizations use these toxic mills to prepare and package bulk drugs into street-ready glassines for distribution for one reason: profit.”