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Press Release

Former City of Miami Police Officer Sentenced to Over 11 Years in Prison for Attempted Cocaine Trafficking and Attempted Hobbs Act Extortion

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

MIAMI – Frenel Cenat, a former police officer with the City of Miami Police Department (MPD) was sentenced today to 135 months in prison, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release, by Senior U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn in Fort Lauderdale. Cenat previously pled 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 his unmarked 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.

“The vast majority of the law enforcement officers in this district and throughout this country perform their very difficult jobs with respect for their communities and in compliance with the law,” stated U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida.  “Former police officer Frenel Cenat tarnished his badge when he abused his position and authority.  His actions do not speak for the larger law enforcement community.  Rather, today’s sentencing is a reminder that no one is above the law. I would like to thank our partners at the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and MPD, in particular the FBI’s West Palm Beach Resident Agency and the Miami Area Corruption Task Force, for their unwavering commitment to the communities we serve and the pursuit of justice.” 

“Former police officer Frenel Cenat disgraced himself by his inexcusable actions that damaged the public’s trust in law enforcement,” said Jeffrey B. Veltri, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami. “I want to thank the Drug Enforcement Administration, the City of Miami Police Department and our U.S. Attorney’s Office for their ironclad commitment throughout this complex investigation. Every day, thousands of dedicated, able, and honorable law enforcement officers take to the streets to protect communities throughout South Florida. It is on the behalf of these professionals that we seek to root out wrongdoing to ensure the high standards expected of our police are met and maintained. Our citizens deserve no less. We encourage anyone who may have information about corruption to come forward and report it. This information is vital to protecting our community.”

“Cenat used his badge to cover his illegal activities, thereby tarnishing the reputations of all the good men and women who protect our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Deanne L. Reuter, DEA Miami Field Division. “Law enforcement partnerships were key to bringing this disgraced officer to justice.”

“The reputation of the Miami Police Department is paramount. The community we are sworn to protect must trust our ability to police ourselves. The arrest of Mr. Cenat sent a strong message that I will not tolerate any member to tarnish the brand of our Miami Police Department,” said MPD Chief Manny Morales. “I am grateful for the assistance and partnership of the FBI, DEA, and the U.S. Attorney's Office; their professionalism and dedication made this investigation tremendously successful and resulted in the arrest of a person unfit to wear the badge.” 

Cenat, 41, who at the time of the crimes had been a police officer with the MPD since 2008, was using an MPD unmarked SUV 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 had been under investigation  and surveillance 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 and then the driver was allowed to leave the scene in his vehicle without being arrested. Cenat met with the CHS immediately thereafter and gave him $13,000 of the money stolen from the driver, keeping the remaining $39,000.

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.  During their discussions, Cenat speculated that the cocaine he would be stealing could be sold for well over $100,000 that they could split. 

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. Like the first deal, two undercover FBI employees 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 once again 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 drive away. 

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 was also found in his vehicle.  

U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey B. Veltri of FBI, Miami Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Deanne L. Reuter, DEA Miami Field Division, and Chief of Police Manuel A. Morales of MPD announced the sentence imposed.

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, and the DEA investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward N. Stamm prosecuted the case. 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 July 2, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Public Corruption