A year-long manhunt
The husband of the owner and operator of the Bronx day care where a 1-year-old child died of suspected fentanyl exposure has been captured by authorities in Mexico, multiple US law enforcement sources familiar with the search told CNN on Tuesday. The suspect, whose name has not been released, was arrested in the state of Jalisco, where he had been hiding for over a year, according to the sources. He is expected to be extradited to the US to face charges related to the child’s death.
The arrest comes more than a year after the tragic incident that shocked the community and sparked a federal investigation. On September 24, 2022, a 1-year-old boy named Cardell Williamson was found unresponsive at the day care center, which was operated by his mother’s friend, Digna Rosario, out of her apartment in the Bronx. The boy was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. A toxicology report later revealed that he had ingested a lethal dose of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that is often mixed with heroin or cocaine.
A drug-filled day care
The investigation into the boy’s death uncovered a disturbing scene at the day care center, where authorities found drugs, drug paraphernalia, and cash stashed throughout the apartment. According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court, agents seized more than 1.5 kilograms of heroin, 1 kilogram of cocaine, 280 grams of fentanyl, and $165,000 in cash from the apartment. They also found a loaded handgun, a digital scale, and packaging materials.
The complaint alleged that Rosario and her husband, along with two other co-conspirators, were involved in a drug trafficking operation that used the day care center as a front and a storage facility. The complaint also alleged that Rosario and her husband were responsible for the boy’s death, as they had left fentanyl in an area accessible to the children. The complaint charged them with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, and causing death by distribution of fentanyl.
A fugitive on the run
Rosario and one of the co-conspirators were arrested shortly after the boy’s death, and pleaded not guilty to the charges. The other co-conspirator was arrested in October 2022, and also pleaded not guilty. However, Rosario’s husband managed to evade capture and fled to Mexico, where he had family ties, according to the sources. He was considered a fugitive and a wanted man by the US authorities, who offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
The sources said that the US Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the New York Police Department worked together with the Mexican authorities to locate and apprehend the suspect. They said that the arrest was the result of a “long and arduous” investigation that involved surveillance, intelligence gathering, and coordination with multiple agencies. They said that the suspect did not resist arrest and was taken into custody without incident.
A justice for the victim
The boy’s mother, Dasia Williamson, told CNN that she was relieved and grateful that the suspect was finally arrested. She said that she had been waiting for this day for a long time, and that she hoped that he would face justice for his role in her son’s death. She said that she still missed her son every day, and that he was a happy and loving child who deserved a better life.
“I’m glad they caught him. I’m glad he can’t hurt anyone else. I hope he gets what he deserves. He took away my baby, he took away my world,” she said.
She also thanked the authorities for their efforts and their support, and said that she hoped that her son’s case would raise awareness about the dangers of fentanyl and the need for more regulation and oversight of day care centers.
“I hope this never happens to anyone else. I hope people learn from this. I hope they check the day care centers, I hope they check the people who work there, I hope they check the background of the owners. I hope they make sure the kids are safe,” she said.