Skip to main content
Press Release

Former City of Miami police officer pleads guilty to attempted cocaine trafficking and attempted Hobbs Act extortion charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Florida

MIAMI – On March 27, a former police officer with the City of Miami Police Department (MPD) pleaded guilty to attempted Hobbs Act extortion under color of official right and attempted possession with intent to distribute cocaine. The charges arose from the use of his police position and authority, and MPD-issued vehicle and equipment to conduct two illegal traffic stops to steal what he believed were drug proceeds and seven kilograms of cocaine from the drivers.

Frenel Cenat, 41, who at the time of the crimes had been a police officer with the MPD since 2008, was using an MPD unmarked Black Ford Explorer as a “take home” vehicle. As an MPD police officer, Cenat was prohibited from engaging in any act of extortion or unlawful means of obtaining anything of value using his official position. In addition, Cenat was required to uphold the laws of the State of Florida and the United States, and he was not permitted to allow, facilitate, or assist individuals in breaking those laws, nor was he authorized to accept payments or things of value in exchange for allowing, facilitating, or assisting them in breaking state or federal laws.

A confidential human source (CHS) stated to law enforcement that they had been told by a mutual friend that Cenat had previously conducted traffic stops of individuals known to have engaged in drug transactions for the purpose of stealing the drugs and/or money those individuals were transporting. On Oct. 16, 2023, the friend introduced Cenat to the CHS at a meeting in Broward County, during which the three of them discussed an opportunity for Cenat to use his police officer position to stop an individual immediately following a drug transaction and steal approximately $50,000 in drug proceeds that the individual would have in their vehicle. Cenat indicated that he conducts the traffic stops outside of his jurisdiction and while off duty.

On Nov. 1, 2023, the friend, the CHS and Cenat planned for a traffic stop rip-off for Nov. 3, 2023. They discussed that the driver to be stopped would have approximately $50,000 in cash from the purported drug transaction, and Cenat requested the time and location of the deal, as well as detailed information about the driver.Cenat stated he would use this information when he conducted the traffic stop to scare the individual into believing they were being investigated and watched for some time so that the driver would be more likely to comply with his request for the money. 

On Nov. 2 and 3, 2023, Cenat and the CHS engaged in numerous communications leading up to the traffic stop. On November 3, at a hotel parking lot in Miami Gardens, Florida, Cenat initiated these communications directly with the CHS. Cenat, in his MPD-issued unmarked vehicle, observed two drivers engage in a staged drug transaction in a parking lot. These drivers were actually FBI undercover employees. One of the drivers was given a backpack containing $52,000 in cash. Cenat followed that driver out of the parking lot and turned on his lights and sirens to conduct a traffic stop. During this stop, Cenat was dressed in black tactical gear, and had his MPD-issued firearm and taser visible in their holsters. Cenat introduced himself as “Officer Martez” and told one of the drivers that he had witnessed the drug transaction. Cenat gave the driver the choice of giving up the backpack containing the cash or going to jail. The driver gave Cenat the backpack containing the cash. 

On Nov. 7, 2023, Cenat called the CHS and asked if he knew of a deal where Cenat could do another stop and get something like seven or ten kilograms of cocaine. Following up on the Cenat’s request, on Nov. 12, 2023, the CHS called Cenat about an upcoming deal in Deerfield Beach, Florida, on Nov. 16, 2023. The CHS told Cenat that the driver he would be stopping would have approximately six or seven kilograms of cocaine and at least $30,000 USD from a purported drug transaction. 

On Nov. 16, 2023, Cenat called the CHS to tell him that he was at the parking lot in his MPD-issued vehicle where the deal was to take place. Then, the CHS messaged Cenat a description of the individual’s vehicle for the traffic stop. Two undercover FBI employees then engaged in a staged drug transaction in the parking lot. Cenat followed one of them out of the parking lot and turned on the lights of his MPD-issued vehicle to conduct a traffic stop. Cenat was dressed in black tactical gear, including his MPD-issued tactical vest with body armor in place, and had his MPD-issued firearm and taser visible in their holsters. Cenat introduced himself as “Officer Martez” with “Broward County Sheriff’s Office – Narcotics Unit” and told the driver that he had witnessed the drug transaction. Cenat went to the bed of the driver’s truck and took a duffle bag containing seven kilograms of fake cocaine and $80,000 and brought it back to his own MPD vehicle. Cenat then returned to the driver-side window of the vehicle and used the information received from the CHS to create the impression that he was under investigation. Cenat asked the driver “you want to go home tonight or spend 30 years in… federal prison?” The driver told Cenat that he wanted to go home. Cenat then told the driver that he now worked for him and had to answer when he was called. Having obtained the fake cocaine and cash from the driver, Cenat let him go. 

Cenat left with the duffle bag containing the fake cocaine and cash and shortly thereafter was arrested by law enforcement officers. The duffle bag, the seven kilograms of fake cocaine and the $80,000 in cash from the traffic stop were found in Cenat’s unmarked MPD-issued vehicle. In addition, $2,000 in $100 bills from the Nov. 3, 2023, traffic stop rip-off were also found in his vehicle.  

The sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 13, at 9:30 a.m., before Senior U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn in Fort Lauderdale. Cenat faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a maximum sentence of up to life in prison.

U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey B. Veltri of FBI, Miami Field Office, and Chief of Police Manuel A. Morales of MPD announced the guilty plea.

FBI’s West Palm Beach Resident Agency and FBI’s Miami Area Corruption Task Force, which includes task force officers from MPD’s Internal Affairs Section, investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward N. Stamm is prosecuting it. Assistant U.S. Attorney Marx Calderon is handling asset forfeiture.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or at, under case number 24-cr-60016.



Public Affairs Unit

U.S. Attorney’s Office

Southern District of Florida

Updated March 29, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Public Corruption