Woman linked to 10-month-old girl's 2022 fentanyl death arrested; boyfriend also charged

Feds say Samantha Yi sold fatal dose to girl's mother; Darnell Mendez sold fentanyl to undercover officers
Posted at 1:33 PM, Mar 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-08 17:49:52-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A South Florida woman is facing federal charges in the death of a 10-month-old girl who ingested fentanyl.

Samantha Yi, 32, and boyfriend Darnell Mendez, 31, appeared in federal court Thursday in West Palm Beach. They are charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl. Yi is also charged with the distribution of fentanyl resulting in death.

Their arrests were the result of a joint investigation involving the Boynton Beach Police Department, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office and Drug Enforcement Administration.

According to the criminal complaint, Palm Beach County deputies found the baby "unresponsive and unconscious" in a car seat in the parking lot of a shopping plaza at the corner of Boynton Beach Boulevard and Military Trail on March 31, 2022.

The Alto Lee Adams, Sr. Federal Courthouse is located on U.S. Highway 1 in Fort Pierce.

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The baby was taken to Bethesda Hospital East and later transferred to Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood, where she died five days later.

An autopsy determined the baby's death was caused by fentanyl intoxication.

The baby's mother, Kelly Kirwan, who was 32 at the time, was later arrested on a charge of aggravated manslaughter of a child by culpable negligence.

Boynton Beach police said fentanyl was found inside the baby's home. Police said the baby ingested fentanyl while in the care of her mother and while her father was at work.

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According to the complaint, the DEA joined the investigation to identify the drug dealers responsible for distributing the fentanyl that killed the infant.

Investigators said they were able to use Kirwan's cellphone to uncover months' worth of text messages between her and Yi, who was identified as the seller.

The investigation also determined that Yi's boyfriend, Mendez, was also involved.

Investigators said Yi met with Kirwan and sold her the fatal dose of fentanyl on March 30, 2022.

According to the complaint, investigators spent more than a year documenting Yi and Mendez selling fentanyl to undercover officers, leading to their arrests Wednesday.

In court Thursday, prosecutors claimed 14 guns were found in the couple's home at the time of their arrests. Yi and Mendez are both convicted felons.

Kirwan is still awaiting trial on the aggravated manslaughter charge.