On social media, Miami-Dade police officers Roderick Flowers and Keith Edwards preened with their badges, donned thick gold jewelry and smoked cigars.
They also took a liking to “Bad Boys,” the police action-movie franchise set in Miami. On Instagram, Flowers even used the name “Mike Lowrey,” the character played by actor Will Smith. Around last Halloween, Edwards posted a photo of the two dressed like the fictional detectives with the caption: “We ride together. We die together. Bad Boys 4 Life.”
Federal authorities say they may now go to prison together.
Flowers appeared in federal court on Friday afternoon, one day after authorities arrested the two on allegations they agreed to act as muscle for a cocaine-trafficking operation set up by undercover agents. Also charged: a Miami money laundering suspect named Manuel Carlos Hernandez — who boasted Flowers was on his payroll, according to court documents.
According to a criminal complaint, the case was made with help from a confidential source posing as a Mexican cartel member who arranged international money-laundering deals with Hernandez and brought in the two cops to help transport a shipment of “white girls” — code word for packages of cocaine — from Homestead to Aventura.
“Welcome to the Sinaloa cartel,” the source told the officers, who laughed and drove away after the transport operation in Miami on Sept. 16, according to the complaint unsealed late Thursday night.
Flowers and Edwards are charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess cocaine. The cocaine was actually fake, and the entire operation carefully orchestrated by agents, court records show.
A federal magistrate on Friday granted Flowers bond and ordered he be confined to his home while awaiting trial.
Edwards did not appear in the virtual court hearing Friday afternoon because he remains in medical isolation at Miami’s Federal Detention Center. He tested positive for COVID-19 upon entering detention, the court heard, and it was not immediately unclear when he can be released on bond.
The charges were the culmination of a six-month investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Hernandez is charged with conspiracy and money laundering. He is being charged alongside another man, Trevanti McLeod, and Durojaiye Obafemi Monsuru Lawal, who described himself as being “involved in money laundering and had political ties in Nigeria,” according to court documents.
Flowers, 30, hails from a law-enforcement family. His sister is a police officer in Georgia. His father is Raleigh Flowers, the police chief in Bal Harbor and a former high-ranking Hialeah officer.
Edwards is a former soldier and father of three, according to his social media accounts.
DEA agents and the confidential source first zeroed in on Hernandez, who ran Hernandez Investments, in Davie. Over the months, Hernandez boasted of the numerous clients he’d laundered money for, his fat bank account and plans to open a barbershop and a car wash to wash dirty money, the complaint said.
Over the summer, in meetings that were secretly audio and video recorded, the source arranged a series of laundering deals involving drug money with Hernandez, Lawal and McLeod.
In July, Hernandez told the source about a Russian strip club owner who was looking to launder dirty money, the complaint said. But later, he told the source that “he’d made some calls to law enforcement connections” to vet the Russians, and learned they were informants, the complaint said.
The following month, the source asked if Hernandez’s secret cop source could run a license plate for someone that supposedly owed him money. DEA agents later learned that the cop who ran the tag through a law-enforcement database was Flowers.
Hernandez later told the source that Flowers and an unnamed cop cousin “were on his payroll” and had acted as “security for money laundering activities,” the complaint said.
The source met Flowers at Hernandez’s office on Sept. 9. The source asked if he was indeed a cop “Yeah, I don’t look like one right?” Flowers allegedly replied.
The source eventually offered to hire Flowers to protect a shipment of cocaine that was to be transported from a Homestead motel to a location in Aventura. Flowers eagerly explained his security prowess, even explaining that he and Edwards both had SWAT training.
“Flowers demonstrated with his hands that he was trained to shoot in the stomach and chest area,” the complaint said. “He explained that, if it were a head shot, it’s from the ears up near the forehead.”
The source paid Flowers $5,000 up front, according to the DEA. Edwards later met with the source in person, also boasting of his security training sharpened in the military. He also referred to himself as a “cop’s cop,” the complaint said.
The operation deal took place without a hitch on Sept. 16, with Flowers and Edwards accompanying the transport in separate cars from a hotel in Homestead to one in Aventura, according to the DEA.
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