Seattle cop indicted in large coast-to-coast pot-smuggling operation

Alex Chapackdee, a 17-year department veteran, is accused of helping his brother-in-law and others smuggle at least hundreds of pounds of marijuana to the East Coast.

A Seattle police officer accused of smuggling hundreds of pounds of marijuana from Washington to Baltimore will be held in detention pending trial after a federal grand jury indicted him and three others on charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and money laundering.

Alex Chapackdee, 43, a 17-year department veteran, is accused by the grand jury in an indictment handed up Wednesday, along with his brother-in-law, Tuan Van Le, who federal agents say was the ringleader of a coast-to-coast marijuana-smuggling operation. Two other men, Smath Khanhphongphane and Phi Nguyen, also were charged.

Chapackdee was scheduled to appear Monday for a preliminary hearing before a U.S. magistrate judge to see if the government had enough evidence to send the case to trial. The indictment forgoes the need for that hearing.

In the meantime, U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Tsuchida ordered all four defendants detained pending trial.

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Chapackdee is on leave without pay from his job as a member of a neighborhood policing team in the city’s South Precinct.

He was charged in a sealed complaint May 5 with conspiracy to distribute marijuana. The indictment handed up Wednesday adds a charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering. It also seeks 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, which the government alleges were bought with illegal drug proceeds.

Chapackdee and the others each face mandatory-minimum five-year prison sentences and fines of up to $5 million if convicted of the smuggling charge. Money laundering carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and possible fines of $250,000.

The charges…

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