Miami Dismisses Officer Arrested for Cocaine, Extortion

Frenel Cenat, a veteran officer with the Miami Police Department (MPD), has been dismissed from his duties following his arrest over charges of attempting to extort cash and cocaine from alleged drug dealers. Cenat was ousted last month, after his arrest in 2023 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that exposed him in a sting operation. He was duped into pulling over disguised agents acting as drug traffickers, and forcefully taking thousands of dollars and a quantity of what he presumed to be cocaine. The dismissal was confirmed on February 23, according to the agenda of the Miami Civil Service Board’s meeting on March 5.

Cenat, who had been an officer since 2008 and worked in the evidence room in recent years, was detained on November 16 on charges including Hobbs Act extortion, theft of government funds, and attempted possession with intent to distribute cocaine. A confidential source had tipped off authorities about Cenat’s use of his officer’s badge and unmarked police vehicle to intercept suspects in drug-trafficking in Broward County and seize their drugs and cash. To bait Cenat into an operation, the informant gave him false details about prospective drug transactions in the vicinity.

On November 3, Cenat intercepted a driver he assumed was a drug courier but in reality was an undercover agent. He introduced himself as “Officer Martez” from the “Miami PD – Dade County Narcotics Unit” and offered to let the driver off the hook if he handed over a $50,000 cash stash he had with him, the criminal complaint states. The undercover agent was released after Cenat supposedly took the money. Later that month, on November 16, Cenat stopped another undercover officer, and thinking he was a drug dealer, offered him the choice to either surrender his cash and cocaine or face jail time, per the FBI.

Post Cenat’s arrest, Miami Police Chief Manuel Morales labeled him as a dishonest officer. In a statement, Morales said that Cenat’s arrest was a result of a concerted effort to identify and deal with crooked cops, adding that it served as a cautionary tale about the consequences of violating the oath of office. The Miami police union has yet to comment on Cenat’s dismissal. The MPD, when asked about the drawn-out procedure to sack Cenat, did not respond, but pointed to a general set of time-consuming internal affairs protocols and procedures for the department’s discipline review.

As for Cenat’s court proceeding, his arraignment was postponed until early February when a preliminary not-guilty plea was noted. He is scheduled for a change-of-plea hearing on March 21.