Alex Chapackdee, a 17-year department veteran, was indicted in May, accused of being part of an operation that transported marijuana from the Northwest to Baltimore. He allegedly helped guard grow operations and provided "muscle" when money was being transported.
A former Seattle police officer accused of smuggling hundreds of pounds of marijuana from Washington state to Baltimore has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute marijuana and money-laundering conspiracy charges in U.S. District Court.
Alex Chapackdee, 44, a 16-year department veteran, entered the plea Monday morning in Seattle before U.S. District Magistrate Judge Brian Tsuchida, who set sentencing for 1:30 p.m. March 1 before U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly.
Chapackdee faces a mandatory-minimum five-year prison sentence and fines of up to $5 million on the marijuana-smuggling charge. Money laundering carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and possible fines of $250,000.
The plea agreement says both sides have agreed to recommend the mandatory-minimum five-year sentence. However, Zilly is not bound by the deal and could impose any sentence up to the statutory maximum of 40 years behind bars.
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In exchange for the pleas, federal prosecutors said they will dismiss three other felony counts pending against Chapackdee when he’s sentenced.
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 the coast-to-coast marijuana-smuggling operation. Two other men, Smath Khanhphongphane and Phi Nguyen, also have pleaded guilty in the case.
According to the plea deal, Chapackdee admitted to carrying his Seattle police badge and sidearm while engaged in the conspiracy.
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, according to a department spokesman.
The four men were charged in a sealed complaint May 5 with conspiracy to distribute marijuana. The indictment also sought forfeiture of property and cash, primarily from Le, including more than $202,000 in cash, a 2004 Bentley Turbo coupe luxury car, and property in Maple Valley, all of which the government alleges was bought with illegal drug proceeds.
Chapackdee had been under surveillance since at least 2016. The investigation included the placement of a camera hidden on a utility pole outside his Seattle apartment and warrants to monitor his phone calls and track his cellphone signal, allowing the task force to track his trips back East.
Le, of Maple Valley, allegedly paid the officer $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.