Seattle police officer paid thousands in marijuana smuggling ring, court documents say

A veteran Seattle Police officer is under arrest, accused of taking part in a drug smuggling operation. Officer Alex Chapackdee is well known in the south end of the city for the outreach work he does with kids and the community.

A 16-year veteran of the Seattle Police Department is one of four people charged in a drug trafficking ring that allegedly transported 220 pounds of marijuana cross-country to Maryland and Virginia.

According to federal probable cause documents, a source told investigators Officer Alex Chapackdee, 44, was paid $10,000 per month to keep an eye on marijuana grow houses for a drug trafficking organization and to provide information on law enforcement. He also allegedly was paid $15,000 for each cross-country trip he made.

The organization was allegedly run by Tuan Van Le, 42, of Maple Valley. Prosecutors allege Le would fly one-way cross country while other members of the organization would transport the drugs virtually non-stop by car or RV and return with the cash.

Federal agents allege Chapackdee drove across the country multiple times. They tracked his movements by use of his debit card, cell phone, and traffic cameras.

Bank records indicate Chapackdee deposited cash in his account in amounts just under $10,000 thereby avoiding reports to law enforcement, prosecutors allege.

Chapackdee is married to Le's sister, according to court documents.

"He's been arrested he's not been charged," his attorney David Gehrke said after his court appearance Monday afternoon. "He's facing serious allegations. And you balance that with his work with children, with his work with his family, and his work with community policing. Was he on a fun trip with the guys or was he a criminal? That's the issue."

Chapackdee was arrested Saturday and immediately placed on administrative leave without pay. He was set to appear in federal court Monday along with co-defendants Le, Samath Khanhphongphae, 38, and Phi Nguyen 32.

The suspects face a minimum of five years in prison and up to 40 years in prison if convicted.

The narcotics investigation involves the Seattle Police Department, FBI, DEA and Homeland Security.

Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole called Chapackdee's actions "disgraceful and disappointing."

"While he will have his due process in the courts, I hope these charges demonstrate to our community that SPD will not tolerate corrupt behavior in our ranks,” O'Toole said in a statement.

 

© 2017 KING-TV


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