Composite screenshot of CBS New York YouTube video (Featured: Michael Rodriguez, accused)
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The leader of an anti-gun violence group in the Bronx was among the 15 suspects arrested in connection with a major drug-running scheme in upstate New York.
Michael Rodriguez — the 48-year-old executive director of Bronx Rises Against Gun Violence, better known as BRAG — has been arrested for his alleged role in a drug ring operating in Middletown and Port Jarvis, New York, both located less than 100 miles northwest of the Bronx.
Last week, police raided the BRAG leader's Yonkers home and allegedly found several incriminating items, including one and a half kilos of cocaine; scales for weighing; $165,000 in case; $50,000 worth of jewelry; and perhaps as many as four firearms. According to the New York Post, at least two of those firearms were illegal: a Ruger .380 caliber handgun and a Bond Arms .357-caliber handgun.
"So, the very guy that we have that is supposed to be stopping gun violence in one jurisdiction in New York City, is poisoning our jurisdiction up here," said Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler.
Mayor Eric Adams has repeatedly mentioned BRAG as one of the organizations designed to help keep the streets of New York City safe, and it was even listed as one of the city's 14 community partners in the "Blueprint to End Gun Violence" initiative launched last year. As such, BRAG does receive funding from the government.
Rodriguez himself regularly attended BRAG events, including peace marches, Bronx County District Attorney Darcel Clark said, and portrayed himself to the public as an ally in the fight against street violence. "These charges are the exact opposite of the good work cure violence groups are doing," making the accusations against Rodriguez even more "shocking and disturbing," Clark's statement added.
As recently as July 5, Rodriguez spoke on camera with CBS New York to discuss his work with BRAG. Some of that footage can be seen in the news report below:
Officials: Bronx anti-gun violence activist arrested for drugs, illegal gunswww.youtube.com
A spokesperson for BRAG issued a statement regarding Rodriguez's arrest. "We are aware of the investigation and the charges that have been made," the spokesperson wrote in an email to the Post on Tuesday. "While we work to learn more, our primary focus remains on the communities we serve and our programs that are helping to keep them safe."
Rodriguez has been charged with first-degree possession of a controlled substance, second-degree conspiracy, and first-degree criminal possession of a weapon. He is currently being held in Orange County Jail without bail.
The investigation that led to the arrest of Rodriguez and 14 others began two years ago and involved several law enforcement agencies, including the Orange County Drug Task Force, the Community Narcotics Enforcement Team, the Hudson Valley Crime Analysis Center, and various police departments and district attorneys' offices.
Angelica Rodriguez, 39, of Otisville, described by Mid Hudson News as "a known drug dealer" who is not related to Michael Rodriguez, was also arrested in connection with the case. She was charged with conspiracy and drug possession.
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Sr. Editor, News
Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News.