A Florida police officer has been arrested and hit with a slew of charges for allegedly stealing cash and drugs from suspects during traffic stops.
Miami Police Department Officer Frenel Cenat, 40, was arrested Thursday following an undercover operation by FBI agents who posed as drug dealers that Cenat allegedly attempted to extort, according to the Justice Department.
Authorities acted on a tip from a confidential source that said Cenat routinely pulled over people known to have bought or sold drugs and stole those drugs along with their money.
On Nov. 3, Cenat pulled over a driver he believed was transporting drugs but was actually an undercover agent posing as a drug trafficker, according to a criminal complaint. Cenat falsely identified himself as “Officer Martez” and told the driver he would let him go if he gave Cenat his backpack with more than $50,000. After allegedly taking the money, Cenat let the undercover agent go.
Later that month, on Nov. 16, officers conducted a second sting. Once again, Cenat pretended to have been investigating the driver and gave him the option to either give Cenat money and drugs or risk going to prison, according to the complaint.
“You want to go home tonight or spend 30 years in…federal prison?” Cenat told the undercover officer, according to the complaint.
The undercover agent gave Cenat a duffle bag filled with $80,000 and 7 kilograms of fake cocaine. Cenat then asked for his phone number.
“You work for me now,” Cenat said, according to the complaint. “If I call you and you don’t answer…I’m coming for you.”
Cenat was arrested later that day.
In September, two former Cleveland officers were sentenced to prison for stealing more than $14,000 from six victims that they had pulled over during traffic stops. Both former officers were sentenced to two years in prison.
Cenat has been charged with attempted Hobbs Act extortion, theft of government funds, and attempted possession with intent to distribute cocaine. His next court appearance is Nov. 28.