A two-year long narcotics investigation in Orange County, New York has led to the arrest of fifteen people, including the head of an anti-violence organization headquartered in the New York City borough of The Bronx.
According to authorities, 48-year-old Michael Rodriguez was one of those arrested, and he’s now facing charges of both criminal possession of a controlled substance as well as two counts of criminal possession of a firearm.
On Wednesday, July 26, a search warrant was executed at his Yonkers residence, which resulted in the seizure of:
- 1516 grams (over 1.5 kilograms) of cocaine
- $165,509 in cash
- A money counter
- An unlicensed Ruger .380 caliber pistol
- An unlicensed Bond Arms .357 caliber handgun
- A vacuum sealer and digital scales
- Jewelry estimated to have a value of $50,000.
It is alleged that Michael Rodriguez regularly supplied cocaine to Angelica Rodriguez, (not related), age 39, of Otisville, who would sell it in and around Middletown, and Tiano Lopez, age 25, of Middletown, who would sell it in and around Port Jervis.
Michael Rodriquez is currently being held without bail in the Orange County Jail pending his appearance in court.
During the investigation, it was uncovered that the supplier of Angelica Rodriguez, a/k/a “Jelly,” and her co-conspirators with cocaine to sell, were also supplying narcotics to those in the City of Port Jervis.
“It is unconscionable that the Director of a respected group which has pledged to reduce gun violence and help at-risk youth would himself choose to become a major drug dealer himself and commit weapons offenses,” said [Orange County District Attorney David] Hoovler. “I hope that the poor example he has set does not disillusion vulnerable youth who might be tempted to follow his example. If they do they will surely also follow him to prison.”
According to B.R.A.G’s website, the program offers a number of services to at-risk youth, including mental health and family counseling and G.E.D. tutoring, but the program is centered around “the Cure Violence (CV) evidence-based anti-violence model that originated in Chicago, Illinois” that utilizes “violence interrupters” to try to stop beefs from spiraling into shootings.
The team is comprised mainly of credible messengers who are people from the impacted neighborhoods that can build a good rapport with youth and other residents due to their prior history of engaging in activities that exposed them to risk for involvement in the justice system.
Unfortunately, when you’re using guys with their own prior history of criminal behavior, sometimes you discover that they haven’t left their criminal ways in the past after all. Fifteen years ago I covered the arrest and eventual conviction of Hector “Big Weasel” Marroquin, who used his own past history as a gang member to found the anti-violence group “No Guns”; raking in hundreds of thousands in taxpayer dollars for the group before he was busted for illegally selling guns.
In Rodriguez’s case, there are no allegations (as of yet, anyway) that he was running guns, but the charges he’s facing are still enough to put him in prison for several years. More importantly, if the prosecutors are correct then Rodriguez was playing a major role in fueling the drug trade in Port Jervis, New York, which has its fair share of drug-involved violence, while at the same time promoting peace in the Bronx. It’s a black eye for B.R.A.G. as well as yet another example of New York’s gun laws failing to prevent the illicit acquisition and possession of firearms, all while making it damn near impossible for law-abiding folks to exercise their right to keep and bear arms.