by KOMO Staff
SEATTLE — A Seattle police officer is one of four men arrested and accused of smuggling large amounts of marijuana from Seattle to Baltimore and elsewhere on the East Coast.
Officer Alex Chapackdee, 44, is accused in a criminal complaint of conspiracy to distribute marijuana with three others. He appeared in federal court on Monday and was ordered held. The Seattle Police Department’s website lists him as being part of the South Precinct’s community police team. The Police Department has suspended him without pay.
Chapackdee, a 16-year veteran of the department, was arrested Saturday at Sea-Tac Airport.
“While always disturbing to investigate one of our own, I am proud of the detectives and commanders who worked diligently on this case,” Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said in a statement Monday. “Officer Chapackdee’s conduct is 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.”
Outside the federal courthouse, Chapackdee’s attorney David Gehrke said the charges are a “huge shock” to his client.
He’s facing serious allegations, and you balance that with his work with children, with his work with his family, with the community policing. Was he just on a fun trip with the guys or was he a criminal? That’s the issue in this case,” Gehrke said.
Court documents say those accused would drive to the East Coast from Seattle with stops only for gas and food to deliver the marijuana, then make the same sort of trip back, presumably with cash.
Chapackdee is married to a sister of Tuan Van Le, who is also accused and is the alleged ring leader in the pot smuggling.
A confidential source told investigators that Le paid Chapackdee $10,000 to keep watch on his marijuana grow houses and to provide law enforcement information, court documents say. The source also told investigators that Chapackdee was paid $15,000 for every trip he made to the East Coast. His trips were allegedly made in an RV.
Court documents note that Chapackdee deposited $9,000 in his back account in October 2016 and $9,500 just three days later. The deposits came after Chapackdee drove to the East Coast. Court documents note that the amounts he deposited were just under the $10,000 amount that would have triggered a transaction reporting requirement.
Gehrke, the officer’s lawyer, was skeptical about the money allegedly paid his client. “It’s unreal compared to what my professional knowledge of how this is handled and what pay rates normally are ,” he said.
Court documents show that law enforcement tracked at least six trips from Seattle to the East Coast from September 2016 to April 2017.
“The trafficking of hundreds of pounds of marijuana from Washington to the streets of Baltimore will not be tolerated,” U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes said in a news release. “Drug trafficking organizations that ignore federal and state laws have always been and will continue to be targeted and held to account. The fact that a police officer was involved in this is obviously of particular concern.”