- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 19, 2023

Federal prosecutors said Friday they charged a Miami police officer with using his position in law enforcement to shake down drug dealers for cash and narcotics in exchange for keeping them out of jail.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida accused Frenal Cenat, 40, of federal extortion charges, theft of government funds and attempting to possess and distribute cocaine after federal agents arrested him Thursday during a sting operation.

Prosecutors said Officer Cenat coordinated with an FBI informant to extort drug traffickers while he was off-duty from his role working in the evidence room for the Miami Police Department.

The FBI informant told Officer Cenat that he should target a drug trafficker Thursday evening in Deerfield Beach, where an undercover FBI agent posed as the trafficker.

The criminal complaint said Officer Cenat used his unmarked Miami police vehicle to pull over the undercover agent.

Officer Cenat introduced himself as “Officer Martez of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office — Narcotics Unit,” prosecutors said, and told the undercover agent he could hand over their cash and cocaine or be taken to federal prison.

The undercover agent gave Officer Cenat a duffel bag with $80,000 and seven kilograms of fake cocaine inside. Prosecutors said the Miami police officer was taken into custody by federal agents after he drove to a Walmart parking lot in Coral Springs to pay the FBI informant his share.

“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,” police Chief Manuel Morales said in a statement. “I stand firmly committed to transparency and ensuring the community’s trust is upheld throughout this investigation.”

Court documents said the informant tipped off Officer Cenat earlier this month about another drug trafficker who could be shaken down — again, an undercover FBI agent.

On Nov. 3, Officer Cenat pulled over the undercover agent in Miami Gardens and said he could go to jail or hand over the cash. Officer Cenat made off with $52,000 and gave $13,000 to the informant.

Officer Cenat joined the Miami Police Department in 2008.

• Matt Delaney can be reached at mdelaney@washingtontimes.com.

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