Former Miami Cop Pleads Guilty to Extortion, Drug Charges, Set to Serve Time Behind Bars

Former Miami Cop Pleads Guilty to Extortion, Drug Charges, Set to Serve Time Behind Bars

On Wednesday, a former Miami police officer entered a guilty plea to the off-duty extortion plot in which he was accused of shaking down drug traffickers for cash and drugs.

Frenel Cenat, who had worked in the police department’s property room guarding evidence utilized in criminal investigations, acknowledged that he had stopped suspected drug dealers in Broward County using his badge and an unmarked police car. His tactic is to steal cash and drugs from the accused and threaten to throw them in jail.

In Fort Lauderdale federal court, Cenat, 40, entered a guilty plea to charges of extortion and attempting to possess cocaine with the purpose to distribute it in front of U.S. District Judge James Cohn.

The maximum sentence for both the cocaine charge and the extortion violation is ten years each.

Howard Schumacher, Cenat’s defense attorney, negotiated a deal with federal prosecutor Edward Stamm to avoid an indictment and trial.

Prior to his arrest in November, Cenat had worked in the evidence room for the previous three years after joining the city’s police department in 2008.

Cenat was dismissed by the Miami Police Department, which referred to him as a “corrupt” policeman.

When Officer Cenat was arrested, Chief Manuel Morales released a statement.

“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,” the statement read.

Cenat was accused of attempting to possess and distribute cocaine and of using his official position to extort criminal suspects under the Hobbs Act in a criminal complaint. The complaint was based on a sting operation that involved an FBI confidential source who communicated with Cenat.

In October 2023, Cenat met in Broward County with an associate who knew the officer and the FBI confidential source, according to an affidavit. The meeting’s goal was to set up the Miami police officer’s target—someone he suspected of being a drug dealer—so that he could steal $50,000 from him.

During the videotaped meeting, Cenat identified himself as “Frenel,” showed the secret source his black Ford Explorer, which was an unmarked police car, and activated the lights and siren.

According to the FBI affidavit, Cenat talked about how “he likes to set up the ‘play'”—a plot to take narcotics and money from suspects while he is off duty and outside of his normal jurisdiction—and how “he prefers to do traffic stops after receiving intelligence about a drug transaction.”

As per Cenat, “When they’re on duty, the Miami police have computers running so they can follow you around and s— like that. They can even ping your phone and see what you’re doing in this area.” The affidavit states, “If I work down there, l will never f— down there bro,” and “you don’t wanna do that s— bro while you are on duty.”

According to the affidavit, the “play” was organized by the associate and confidential source in early November through group chats on Signal.

This involved two undercover FBI agents posing as drug traffickers and arranging for a sting wherein they would deal in three kilograms of cocaine valued at $52,000 at the Stadium Hotel parking lot in Miami Gardens. After the sale, Cenat had the responsibility of stopping an FBI employee and shaming him for the alleged narcotics money.

The evening of November 3, 2023, saw the “play” go as scheduled. Upon conducting the traffic stop, Cenat introduced himself as “Officer Martez” from the “Miami Police Department, Dade County Narcotics Unit” to the FBI agent masquerading as the driver.

He disclosed to the undercover worker that he was being investigated for drug sales after the worker had hidden the $52,000 in $100 bills in a rucksack.

Following the transaction, Cenat reconnected with the FBI’s confidential informant at a Coral Springs Walmart parking lot to divide the narcotics proceeds once more. Cenat was taken into custody. This time, the duffel bag inside his police-issued car contained both the seven kilograms of fake cocaine and eighty thousand dollars in $100 bills.