Two days after Christmas, one-year-old Darwin Santana-Gonzalez was toddling around a Bronx apartment where a potent mixture of heroin and fentanyl was being prepared, stamped and packed for sale. The powerful opioids had been placed in packages along with acetylfentanyl, creating the sort of deadly cocktail that has led to a surge of overdose deaths. Somehow, some of the mix also ended up in Darwin, who died that morning, reports the New York Times. Darwin’s parents, who had flagged down police as they tried to rush him to the hospital, were charged with drug possession, but his father fled the country. This week, his mother, Daira Santana-Gonzalez, was charged with murder.
Fentanyl can kill children through accidental ingestion of very small quantities. It is not known how Darwin ingested the drugs. Fentanyl variants can be 50 times stronger than heroin and have appeared mixed into a number of drugs, including those sold as pure heroin, cocaine and prescription pills. “The amount of fentanyl it would take to kill you or me would fit on the tip of your baby finger, and a small child would be much more susceptible,” said Bridget Brennan, the city’s special narcotics prosecutor. Two days before Darwin died, an 18-month-old girl, Ava Floyd, died from ingesting fentanyl in Michigan. Her parents were charged with murder after the authorities discovered evidence of drug manufacturing and distribution inside their home. The U.S. opioid crisis claimed the lives of almost 9,000 children and adolescents from 1999 to 2016, researchers from Yale University reported.