MIAMI -- A Miami police officer was arrested after being accused of pulling over vehicles suspected of carrying drug trafficking suspects and then taking their drugs and cash, according to court documents.
Frenel Cenat, 40, was arrested Thursday by U.S. marshals. The suspect is facing several charges, including theft of government funds, attempted possession with intent to distribute cocaine and Hobbs Act extortion under color of official right and attempted Hobbs Act extortion under color of official right.
The suspect appeared in court Friday in Fort Lauderdale federal court but it was not immediately clear if bond has been set in the case.
The Miami Herald reported that Cenat has been on the city's force since 2008 and worked in the department's evidence room.
In a written statement, Miami police Chief Manuel Morales said: "The Miami Police Department is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to ensure the integrity of our agency is beyond reproach. 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."
According to the 15-page complaint, FBI agents said they were tipped off about the officer's activities in September by a source under investigation for drug trafficking activities.
The tipster accused Cenat of wearing his uniform and using his police-issued vehicle during the alleged traffic stops, according to federal charging documents.
Authorities said the officer told the source he typically conducted the traffic stops while off duty and outside his jurisdiction because "on duty they (MPD)got computers on and can track you," he allegedly said.
After receiving the tipster's information, authorities set up an undercover sting to target Cenat on Nov. 3 with FBI officers posing as drug traffickers exchanging cocaine and $52,000 while in the parking lot of Stadium Hotel in Miami Gardens, the federal complaint says..
The officer pulled over the undercover FBI agent and demanded a backpack with the money from the agent, who was told to hand over the bag or go to jail. After getting the bag containing the money, the complaint says the Miami officer returned to his home in Boynton Beach.
The criminal complaint lays out another sting on Nov. 16 that occurred in the parking lot of a Deerfield Beach Fairfield Inn.
In that incident the accused officer allegedly pulled over a gray Toyota Tacoma and confiscated a blue duffle bag that contained prop cocaine and $80,000 in cash. When he went to split the proceeds with the undercover source, Cenat was taken into custody by FBI agents.
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