Despite marijuana’s increasing legality, the cannabis black market remains as prominent as ever. Even in states where the plant is fully legalized, there remains plenty of money hungry drug smugglers looking to profit off of the plant at a reduced cost. Such is the case of one ex-Seattle cop, who became a top leader of a large-scale drug-smuggling ring and corresponding money laundering scheme.
Former Cop Sentenced For Smuggling Weed
44-year-old Alex Chapackdee, a former Seattle officer who was forced to step down after the scandal, has been sentenced to six years in prison for his role in the ring. Chapackdee pleaded guilty back in November to charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to KomoNews.com, Chapackdee was a member of the Seattle Police department at the time and was typically armed and wearing his police badge while taking part in some of the illicit activities. The 16-year police vet was originally arrested last May after he and three other men were investigated and found to have smuggled large amounts of cannabis from Seattle to Baltimore and other East Coast locations. “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 at the time. “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.” Between June 2013 and April 2017. the four men were found to have made multiple trips to the east coast, many of which took place inside of Chapackdee’s own RV. Prosecutors say Chapackdee drove his RV either one or both ways during trips in September, October and November of 2016 and in March and April of 2017. Typically, the vehicles would traffic the cannabis into the Baltimore area, and bring the cash proceeds back to Seattle. Chapackdee would reportedly deposit just under $10,000 into his bank accounts to avoid reporting his deposit statements back to law enforcement.According to prosecutors, the rest of the money was laundered into a marijuana growing and -processing businesses, which, ironically enough, are fully legal operations in the state of Washington. Along with Chapackdee, 43-year-old Tuan Van Le, believed to be the ringleader of the entire operation, was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Le is the brother-in-law of Chapackdee and similarly pleaded guilty back in December.
Final Hit: When Two Industries Collide
While Chapackdee’s dual-life is certainly noteworthy, what really stands out is how the former police-officer was able to intertwine both the legal and illegal pot industries in one landmark bust. Chapackdee laundered the money from his own highly-illegal pot operation, into Washington’s prevalent legal weed industry. Unfortunately for legal marijuana advocates everywhere, it’s criminals like Chapackdee who do nothing to remove an age-old stigma surrounding the plant. Luckily, he will now pay for his actions.