A Seattle police officer served as the “muscle” for a sizable interstate marijuana smuggling operation run by his brother-in-law—who hired the cop because he was family, federal authorities announced Monday.
Alex Chapackdee, 44, allegedly helped send “hundreds of pounds of marijuana” from Seattle, where recreational cannabis is legal, to Baltimore, where it most certainly is not, as well as other locations on the East Coast.
In return for conspiring to send “at least 100 kilograms” of Washington state weed across the country, Chapackdee was paid $10,000 a month, according to charges filed by the local U.S. Attorney.
Chapackdee would serve as the “muscle” during transactions and ensure the money made the trip back to Washington safely, earning another $15,000 for each successful round-trip venture.
He also allegedly fed his co-conspirators law-enforcement information, including “information on arrests and investigations that may be connected,” according to the Seattle Times.
If convicted of interstate trafficking, Chapackdee faces a five-year mandatory minimum sentence under federal law.
Chapackdee was arrested on Friday, along with three others, including his brother-in-law, Tuan Van Le. Le brought the family cop on board because the other “mules” he had been using kept ripping him off, according to charging documents.
As the Seattle Times reported, Chapackdee and at least three others are alleged to have made at least six trips from Washington to the East Coast beginning in 2016. At least one of the shipments ended up with a “known Baltimore drug dealer,” who was arrested while in possession of “nearly 200 pounds,” authorities said. That dealer turned stoolie and told police that Tuan Van Le, Chapackdee’s brother-in-law, had fronted him the weed.
Chapackdee, who joined the Seattle PD in 2000 and served in a “community policing team,” has since been suspended from the force. Somehow, he was able to take up to a week off at a time at least once a month, for months in a row, in order to make the cross-country trips, according to charging documents. Chill cop job.
Judging by the comments from Seattle police Chief Kathleen O’Toole—who called her erstwhile officer’s conduct “disgraceful and disappointing,” while noting that he would “have his due process in the courts”—he won’t likely be returning to work anytime ever.
The cross-country cannabis connection may have began as early as 2015, when a confidential source—not the Baltimore drug dealer—began feeding the FBI in Washington, D.C. dirt on the operation.
As the Times reported, the FBI opened up a public-corruption case on Chapackdee last year. Agents put a camera on a light pole outside his Seattle apartment and were able to track his movements by monitoring his phone calls and cellphone signals, the Times reported. Police would watch as Chapackdee loaded up his RV for trips east, when he rented an SUV when the RV broke down and they’d watch him when he returned.
Le also allegedly shipped cocaine from Seattle to New York City via truck, flying east with a coterie of “6-10” others to oversee distribution to other cities, and then collection of cash, delivered to him at casinos, according to court documents.
Not that we’re criminal critics or advise anyone to break any law ever, but both of them did very stupid things, such as use a cell phone subscribed under Chapackdee’s name and use debit cards linked to their bank accounts while on the east-west return trips with cash.
Chapackdee also made cash deposits of just under $10,000—the currency reporting requirement—shortly after finishing each trip.
Cash is king, kids, as in paper only—leave no trace. And never do favors for your in-laws.