Ex-Seattle coop sentenced to 6 years in marijuana-smuggling operation
In this photo, packages totaling 9453 kg of marijuana which were bound for Argentina and seized during an operation in Villa del Rosario on March 19, 2018. Getty Images / Norberto Duarte

A former Seattle Police Department officer was sentenced to six years in prison on Thursday for his role in helping his brother-in-law in a marijuana-smuggling ring from Washington State to Baltimore.

44-year-old Alex Chapackdee, a 16-year department veteran was accused in May 2017 along with his brother-in-law, Tuan Van Le, who according to the federal agents was the ringleader of a coast-to-coast marijuana-smuggling operation.

Le who pleaded guilty in December last year was sentenced to 14 years in prison for “distributing marijuana and conspiracy to commit money laundering”.

Chapackdee had also pleaded guilty in November last year for “conspiracy to distribute marijuana and money-laundering conspiracy charges” in the U.S. District Court in Seattle.

According to a report in Seattle Times, Chapackdee’s sentence exceeded the mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence. However, reports state that three other felony charges against him were dismissed after he entered a plea deal with the federal prosecutors.

Apart from Chapackdee and Le, two other men named Smath Khanhphongphane and Phi Nguyen also pleaded guilty in the case. While Khanhphongphane was sentenced last month to five years in prison, Nguyen is all set to be sentenced next month on April 12.

Reports suggest that in his plea deal, Chapackdee admitted that he carried both his police badge and a firearm during the smuggling.

The investigation into the case first started in 2015 in the FBI’s Washington D.C. division after the officials learned from a confidential source that a Seattle police officer was actively involved in the operations of a smuggling ring.

After learning about the same FBI Seattle also opened a public-corruption investigation which ran parallel with the drug investigation in Washington D.C.

Chapackdee was later also placed under observation that included the placement of a camera hidden on a utility pole outside of his apartment along with monitoring his phone calls and cell phone signals.

After his arrest in the case, the ex-Seattle cop was placed on administrative leave without pay. Chapackdee was then serving as a member of a neighborhood policing team in the city’s South Precinct. He later resigned.

The charging documents in the case revealed that a confidential informant told FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency about Chapackdee’s role in the smuggling ring.

The informant supposedly revealed that the former police officer provided “information on arrests and investigations that may be connected” to the smuggling operation.

Le apparently paid $10,000 a month to Chapackdee “to keep an eye on all of Tuan Van Le’s marijuana grow houses”.

He also reportedly used him as muscle to transport the money that the ring collected on the East Coast to Seattle.

The prosecutors said that Chapackdee was supposed to get paid an additional $15,000 for every trip that he made to Baltimore. The officer’s RV was used to travel from Seattle to Baltimore constantly between January 2015 and April 2017.