Florida officers protected cocaine shipment for cash, feds say

Two South Florida police officers, who liked to pattern themselves after the “Bad Boys” movie franchise, are facing charges that they provided protection for a fake cocaine transfer orchestrated by federal agents.

Miami-Dade County officers Roderick Flowers and Keith Edwards Jr. are charged federally with conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine. 

According to court records, a DEA source began meeting in May with a South Florida businessman, Manuel Hernandez, about laundering money that the source claimed was from cocaine sales for the Sinaola Cartel, a Mexican drug ring.

Hernandez met several times with the DEA source, laundering more than $100,000 and investing in cocaine shipments, the DEA alleges.

In August, Hernandez told the source he had police officers on his payroll. In September, the source asked Hernandez if an officer could identify a license plate number for him. Hernandez got the information back within 10 minutes. The DEA says computer records show it was Flowers who looked up the plate.

By September, the source told Hernandez he needed protection to move a shipment of cocaine between two spots in South Florida and asked if his officers would do it, records show.

The DEA says Flowers met with the source at Hernandez's office on Sept. 9. The source thanked Flowers for looking up the license plate and asked him to provide protection for a shipment of cocaine, using the code name “white girls” for the drug.

Flowers allegedly bragged about his shooting prowess and that he had a police friend who could help. The source paid Flowers $5,000 upfront for his work, records show.

Five days later, Flowers, whose father is chief of a suburban Miami police department, allegedly introduced the source to Edwards during a meeting at Hernandez's office.

The DEA says Edwards agreed to take part, saying that while he understood the source's business, his job would be to provide personal protection and he would have nothing to do with the actual drugs, saying he is a “cop's cop.” The source also paid him $5,000.

On Sept. 16, the source and an undercover DEA agent met Edwards and Flowers in a parking lot and then drove to a hotel, where the source allegedly told them he would be picking up 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of cocaine. Using separate cars, they went to the hotel, where the source and Edwards went inside. The source met with another undercover agent, who gave him 10 kilograms of sham cocaine in a suitcase.

The group drove 50 miles to another hotel, where the source handed over the suitcase to another undercover agent in Edwards' presence, court documents say.

As they were leaving that hotel, the documents say, the source hugged both officers and said “Welcome to the Sinaloa Cartel.” Flowers and Edwards laughed.

They were arrested last week.

Flowers appeared in court Friday and was released on bond. His attorney, David Weinstein, said Sunday he could not comment because he has not reviewed the evidence.

Edwards tested positive for coronavirus and is being held in isolation pending a court hearing. Hernandez is charged with money laundering and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Their attorneys did not immediately respond Sunday to emails seeking comment.

The Miami-Dade Police Department has not issued a statement on the arrests and did not respond Sunday to an email seeking comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.