304 North Cardinal St.
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304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
A Miami Police Department officer was arrested after he took money from what he thought were drug dealers but who were actually undercover FBI agents, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.
Frenel Cenat, 40, is charged with Hobbs Act extortion and attempted extortion under color of official right, theft of government funds, and attempted possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
The investigation began in September when an informant told FBI agents that Cenat, while in his MPD-issued vehicle, would conduct traffic stops on people who had just engaged in a drug deal and tell them they could go free if they gave him the money and/or drugs they just bought or sold, a probable cause arrest affidavit reviewed by Law&Crime said.
The informant then set up two drug deals by undercover FBI agents. During an initial meeting with Cenat, the informant and another person that was secretly recorded, Cenat told them how he set up the “play.” He said he had to do it while off duty and outside of the City of Miami because the department can track the vehicle and on-duty traffic stops. Cenat said he was doing the “plays” to pay bills.
“I just need bread now,” he allegedly said.
The informant introduced Cenat to a friend who was actually a cop who said they knew of a drug deal exchanging 3 kilograms of cocaine for $50,000 going down on Nov. 3 at a hotel parking lot in Miami Gardens. The informant told Cenat what the “drug dealers” looked like, the cars they would be driving and the time of the deal. One of the drug dealers had flown in from Dallas, the informant allegedly told Cenat.
After the staged drug deal went down, Cenat is accused of pulling over the man with the money in his police car and introducing himself as “Officer Martez from Miami PD-Dade County Narcotics Unit.” Cenat asked for the driver’s license and registration, and told them he saw the transaction and made them believe he had been investigating them for a long time, the affidavit said.
According to the affidavit, Cenat told the undercover agent he could go to jail or give him the backpack with the cash. The agent gave Cenat the backpack containing $52,000 in $100 bills. Cenat later met the informant and the undercover cop and gave them $14,000 to split for letting him know about the deal, the affidavit said. The informant told Cenat he knew about second deal happening on Thursday in a hotel parking lot in Deerfield. Cenat allegedly told the informant that if everything happened like it did during the first deal, “I’ll be in heaven.”
Much like the first time, the deal took place and Cenat is accused of again conducting a traffic stop. This time he introduced himself as “Officer Martez from Broward County Sheriff’s Office – Narcotics Unit,” the affidavit said. He found a duffel bag containing 7 kilos of “prop drugs” and $80,000, the affidavit said.
“You want to go home tonight or spend 30 years in … federal prison?” Cenat allegedly said during the recorded traffic stop.
He then asked for the “drug dealer’s” phone number after he took the “cocaine” and cash.
“You now work for me,” he allegedly told who he thought was a drug dealer. “When I call … you better answer. If I call you and I you don’t answer … I’m coming for you.”
The FBI arrested Cenat after he went to meet with the informant to split the proceeds. They found the prop drugs and cash in his police car.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners are committed to rooting out corrupt officials,” stated U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida. “We will continue to investigate and prosecute corrupt officials, to include law enforcement officers, that breach the public’s trust by carrying out criminal acts.”
According to the affidavit, Cenat has been employed by the Miami Police Department since 2008 and has been assigned to the property and evidence unit since 2020. He’s been suspended with pay, the agency said.
“The Miami Police Department is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to ensure the integrity of our agency is beyond reproach,” Miami police Chief Manuel Morales said. “The arrest of Officer Cenat is the result of a joint operation focused on identifying corrupt cops, and it’s an example of the repercussions when one of our own betrays their oath of office and tarnishes their badge. I stand firmly committed to transparency and ensuring the community’s trust is upheld throughout this investigation.”
Cenat has a court hearing scheduled for Nov. 28. His attorney, Howard J. Schumacher, did not immediately return a call for comment.
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