The former Seattle officer served as muscle for the smuggling operation and often transported marijuana to Baltimore in his RV, federal prosecutors said.
A former Seattle police officer was sentenced to six years in prison Thursday for helping his brother-in-law smuggle hundreds of pounds of marijuana from Washington state to Baltimore.
Alex Chapackdee, 45, a 16-year department veteran, pleaded guilty in November to conspiracy to distribute marijuana and money-laundering conspiracy charges in U.S. District Court in Seattle.
The sentence was above the mandatory-minimum five-year prison sentence Chapackdee faced. In a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, three other felony counts against Chapackdee were dismissed.
Chapackdee was indicted by a federal grand jury in May, along with his brother-in-law, Tuan Van Le, who federal agents say was the ringleader of a coast-to-coast marijuana-smuggling operation. Le pleaded guilty in December to conspiracy to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
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Le, 43, was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Two other men, Smath Khanhphongphane and Phi Nguyen, also pleaded guilty in the case. Khanhphongphane was sentenced last month to five years in prison. Nguyen will be sentenced on April 12.
According to the plea deal, Chapackdee admitted to carrying his Seattle police badge and sidearm during the smuggling operation.
The investigation into the smuggling operation started in 2015 in the FBI’s Washington, D.C., division, according to the criminal charges. After learning from a confidential source that a Seattle police officer was involved, the FBI in Seattle opened a public-corruption case, which ran parallel to the drug investigation.
Chapackdee was placed under surveillance that included the placement of a camera hidden on a utility pole outside his Seattle apartment and the monitoring of his phone calls and cellphone signal.
According to the charging documents, a confidential informant also told agents from the FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency that Chapackdee provided the operation with “information on arrests and investigations that may be connected” to the smuggling operation.
Le, of Maple Valley, paid Chapackdee $10,000 a month “to keep an eye on all of Tuan Van Le’s marijuana grow houses,” and used him as muscle to transport money collected on the East Coast to Seattle, prosecutors said.
The charges said he would be paid an additional $15,000 for every trip made to Baltimore. Chapackdee and others would often travel from Seattle to Baltimore in the officer’s RV, prosecutors said.
After his arrest, Chapackdee was placed on leave without pay by the Police Department, where he had served as a member of a neighborhood-policing team in the city’s South Precinct. He later resigned.
Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this story.