In a recent development, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has apprehended Officer Frenel Cenat, a member of the Miami Police force, alleging his involvement in a series of criminal activities during routine traffic stops. The accusations span a range of offenses, including attempted Hobbs Act extortion, theft of government funds, and an endeavor to possess cocaine with intent to distribute.
Covert Corruption Unveiled
Cenat, aged 40, with a tenure as a Miami Police officer dating back to September 2008, had been assigned to the property and evidence unit since 2020, as per jail and court records.
The genesis of the FBI’s inquiry into Cenat’s conduct can be traced to a confidential informant who disclosed that Cenat, while ostensibly targeting suspects, was, in fact, pilfering money and narcotics from undercover agents involved in supposed drug transactions during routine traffic stops.
Employing his official police vehicle and donned in his police uniform, Cenat orchestrated these stops meticulously, as evidenced by recorded audio and video. The investigation unveiled a pattern wherein Cenat, during off-duty hours and outside his jurisdiction, meticulously devised schemes to evade electronic surveillance methods employed by the Miami Police Department.
In an alarming revelation, the affidavit detailed instances where Cenat coerced individuals involved in drug transactions to surrender their contraband or face incarceration. The use of intimidation tactics, including threats and force, featured prominently in his modus operandi.
In a specific incident recounted in the affidavit, Cenat discussed plans to intercept and pilfer approximately $50,000 from an individual involved in a drug transaction.
FBI Sting Operation
Further investigations led to a staged operation where two undercover FBI agents posed as participants in a drug transaction involving 3 kilograms of cocaine. Cenat, having orchestrated the scheme, intercepted one of the agents and, under the guise of “Officer Martez” from the “Miami PD – Dade County Narcotics Unit,” successfully seized a backpack containing $52,000.
Subsequent discussions between Cenat and the informant outlined additional planned thefts, including one scheduled for November 16 in Deerfield Beach, involving 6 or 7 kilos of cocaine and a substantial sum of cash.
The subsequent operation on November 16 resulted in Cenat intercepting an undercover agent, once again posing as “Officer Martez,” and absconding with a duffel bag purportedly containing 7 kilos of DEA prop drugs and $80,000 in cash.
Using coercive language, Cenat asserted authority over the undercover agent, declaring, “You now work for me,” and issuing threats of dire consequences if non-compliance ensued.
Arrest and Accountability
Cenat’s arrest transpired during a meeting in Coral Springs, where he intended to split the pilfered money and drugs with the informant.
Miami Police Chief Manuel Morales conveyed the department’s commitment to collaborating with law enforcement partners to uphold the agency’s integrity. He emphasized that Officer Cenat’s arrest serves as a testament to the consequences faced by those who betray their oath of office.
Records indicate Cenat’s incarceration in Broward County jail, with attorney information currently unavailable. Jeffrey B. Veltri, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, underscored the agency’s dedication to bringing government officials, particularly those in law enforcement, to justice when they exploit their positions for personal gain. Public corruption, he affirmed, remains a top priority in criminal investigations.
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