In their day-to-day lives, they served as young Miami-Dade cops who patrolled the county streets in their police cars.
It would only take one undercover operation produced by undercover drug operatives to take down the cop buddies, who had a soft spot for the blockbuster police action movie franchise, “Bad Boys.”
Next week Roderick Flowers and Keith Edwards will be jailed in federal prison for one year and three months. Upon release, the two must serve two years of house arrest, then face an additional five years probation. As part of their probation, US District Judge Paul Huck also ordered the two to serve up to 1,000 hours of community service per year.
It may not seem like a long time behind bars for pleading guilty to protecting a shipment of cocaine across the county. But their law enforcement careers are over, along with their social media knockoffs of Bad Boy actors Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, who played fictional Miami detectives in the film.
If there is a bright side, it is this: “He is very satisfied with his sentence because it gives him the opportunity to continue his life,” said Flowers defense lawyer David Weinstein. .
The same could be said for Edwards.
Flowers, 31, and Edwards, 29, avoided potential sentences of three to five years because, while abusing public trust, they accepted responsibility after getting caught. In addition, the cocaine load – which was fake but looked real during the injection operation – was a relatively small amount, weighing between half a kilogram and two kilograms. Each police officer was paid only $ 5,000 to protect the shipment. The only illicit transaction was entirely orchestrated by undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agents and their confidential sources.
Last November, the two Miami-Dade cops were arrested for agreeing to act as an escort in a cocaine smuggling operation set up by undercover agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Also charged: A Miami money laundering suspect named Manuel Carlos Hernandez – who bragged that Flowers was on his payroll, court documents show.
According to a criminal complaint affidavit, the case was filed with the help of a confidential source posing as a member of a Mexican cartel who arranged international money laundering deals with Hernandez and brought in the two cops to help transport a shipment of “white girls” – the word code for packages of cocaine – from Homestead to Aventura.
“Welcome to the Sinaloa cartel,” the source told officers, who laughed and left after the September 16, 2020 transport operation, according to the affidavit.
Defense attorney Frank Prieto, who represents Edwards, said that although “this crime was created by the federal authorities” as part of an undercover operation, “there was a damning audio tape that showed clearly they were doing something with drugs. “
In April, Flowers and Edwards pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to distribute and possess cocaine. They were sentenced at the end of August.
Hernandez pleaded guilty to the same drug charge as well as one count of money laundering conspiracy, sending him to jail for nearly four years. His associates, Trevanti McLeod and Durojaiye Obafemi Monsuru Lawal, pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiracy to launder money, carrying sentences of one year in prison.
Flowers and Edwards had both been members of the Miami-Dade “Priority Response Team”, a unit created after the Parkland School massacre in 2018 to respond to major incidents.
Flowers, 31, comes from a law enforcement family. Her sister is a police officer in Georgia. Her father is Raleigh Flowers, Chief of Police in Bal Harbor and a former high ranking officer in Hialeah.
Edwards is a former Army National Guard and father of three.
On social media, the two former Miami-Dade officers smiled with their badges, donned thick gold jewelry and smoked cigars.
They also took a liking to the “Bad Boys”. On Instagram, Flowers even used the name “Mike Lowrey”, the character played by actor Will Smith. On Halloween, Edwards posted a photo of the two dressed as fictional detectives with the caption, “We’re riding together. We die together. Bad Boys 4 Life.
According to court records, DEA agents and their top confidential source focused on Hernandez, who ran Hernandez Investments, in Davie. When they first met last year, the source introduced himself as a cocaine broker and money launderer affiliated with the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico.
Hernandez bragged about the many clients he had laundered money for, his large bank account and his intention to open a barber shop and car wash to wash the dirty money, according to the affidavit . He also told the confidential source that he had ties to law enforcement officials who could help them.
During the summer of 2020, in secretly audio and video-recorded meetings, the DEA confidential source arranged a series of drug money laundering deals with Hernandez, Lawal and McLeod.
In August, the DEA confidential source asked Hernandez if one of his law enforcement sources could issue a license plate for someone owed him money. DEA agents later learned that the cop who passed the tag on a law enforcement database was Flowers.
Hernandez later told the confidential source that Flowers and an anonymous police cousin “were on his payroll” and acted as “a surety for money laundering activities,” according to the affidavit.
The DEA source met Flowers at Hernandez’s office on September 9. The source asked if he really was a cop. “Yeah, I don’t look like that, do I?” Flowers would have replied.
The source ultimately offered to hire Flowers to protect a cargo 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.
The source paid Flowers $ 5,000 up front, according to the DEA. Edwards then met the source in person, also bragging about his sharp security training in the military. He also referred to himself as a “cop cop,” according to the affidavit.
“Edwards told the [confidential source] that he knew that what the SC had done was illegal, but that it was none of his business, ”stated the affidavit. The source then paid Edwards $ 5,000.
The operation went off without a hitch on September 16, 2020, with Flowers and Edwards accompanying transport in separate cars from one hotel in Homestead to another in Aventura, according to the DEA. The confidential source, along with an undercover agent, carried the fake load of cocaine in a car while Flowers drove past them and Edwards behind them.
According to their defense attorneys, they were not wearing their Miami-Dade police uniforms and driving their patrol cars.
Miami Herald staff writer David Ovalle contributed to this story.