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Alleged burglar gets caught in traffic stop and busted for meth

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man accused of burglarizing two homes in the Tafuna area last year was arrested last month on drug charges during a traffic stop in Nu’uuli. It was during his arrest that officers discovered an active warrant for the defendant’s arrest.

The defendant, Alesana Mapuitaga made his initial appearance in District Court last month. He later waived his right to a preliminary hearing and the case has been bound over to High Court.

The government has filed two separate cases against Mapuitiga.

In the first case, Mapuitaga is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth), a felony punishable by imprisonment of 5-10 years, a fine of $5,000-$20,000 or both.

In the second case — which are burglaries from last year — Mapuitiga is charged with two counts of burglary in the first degree, a class B felony punishable by 5-15 years in jail while stealing is a class C felony that carries a jail term of up to 7 years, a fine of up to $5,000, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of said crime up to a maximum of $20,000, or both fine and imprisonment for each count; along with two count of stealing, a class C felony.

Bail is set at $15,000


On Aug. 30, 2021 three officers conducted speeding enforcement across from a store in the Nu’uuli area, and stopped a speeding vehicle heading west around 9a.m. Two people were inside the vehicle, the driver and a female passenger sitting in the back seat behind the driver.

The driver identified himself to police as Alesana Mapuitaga, and he did not have a valid driver’s license or any other form of identification on him. It was later confirmed that his license had expired Oct. 17, 2019.

While questioned by officers, Mapuitaga told officers that he was in a rush to pick up his daughter from his aunt’s house.

Mapuitiga was then told that his vehicle would be impounded at the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) and he will be taken in for further questioning. He was hand cuffed and rode in the passenger seat of his vehicle while a cop took the wheel.

The passenger was instructed to exit the vehicle and was searched for weapons, and nothing was found on the passenger. She was taken to the TPS for questioning before she was released to go home.

Before heading to the police station, Mapuitiga handed a brown box to one of the female officers, to give to his female passenger (who identified herself to police as Rossana Willie). Inside the brown box was shopping from the store. Mapuitiga told the officers that the shopping was for his children and Willie needed to take it home because he’s going to the TPS for questioning.

 The cop who handed the box of shopping to Willie asked Willie if she knew who owns the shopping inside the brown box. Willie told officers the shopping belongs to Mapuitaga’s children. She further told the officer that when Mapuitaga picked her up, the shopping was already in the vehicle.

The brown box was opened and the officer smelled a strong odor of alcohol from inside the box. When Willie got the brown box, she quickly reached inside the box and grabbed a black pouch that was in the box and put it in her pocket while officers were watching.

Officers were suspicious and asked Willie if they could look inside the brown box. Willie agreed and handed over the box to officers. Officers also asked her to hand over the black pouch she had placed in her pocket.

Inside the brown box was shopping, however, when officers opened the black pouch Willie handed over to them, they discovered two small stamp-sized baggies containing white crystalline substance, along with Mapuitiga’s expired immigration ID.

Willie was then placed in the police unit and the cop held on to the brown box and the black pouch until their arrival at the police station. Once there, the cop returned the black pouch to Mapuitiga and asked him who owned it. Mapuitiga did not respond. Officers continued to look inside the black pouch and found a small stamp size baggie containing green leafy substance.

Officers also searched Mapuitiga and netted two small stamp-sized baggies containing a white crystalline substance that tested positive for meth inside his rear pocket.

When questioned by police, Willie said she has known Mapuitiga for about six months now and they usually hang around at Mapuitiga’s residence. She said Mapuitiga would ask her to come with him (Mapuitiga) when Mapuitiga went to Vaitogi to pick up his stuff from a man by the name of Wayne.

According to Willie, Mapuitiga went for shopping and later picked her up from her house and on their way to Mapuitiga’s residence, a police unit pulled over their vehicle and she saw Mapuitiga quickly pull a black pouch from his pocket and hide it inside a brown box containing the shopping.

En route to the police station, Mapuitiga hit his head on the side of the police unit and attempted to open the door. One officer immediately reached out and stopped him from moving around and asked what he was doing. Mapuitiga did not respond.

When questioned by investigators, Mapuitiga said the drugs found in his possession and inside the black pouch belonged to his friend working at his uncle’s mechanic shop. He told investigators that Willie had nothing to do with the drugs found in his possession.

Investigators informed Mapuitaga that there is an active warrant for his arrest from the court last year for his role in two separate burglaries in the Tafuna area.

Mapuitiga’s vehicle was searched in his presence. Police found a pipe containing white crystalline substance on the floor of the passenger side, wrapped in a white paper. There was also a green leafy substance scattered all over the sides of the rug on the passenger side. Two closed off straws were also discovered underneath a soda can in the passenger’s side cup holder.

During arraignment in High Court last week, Mapuitiga pled ‘not guilty’ to the charge against him. Pretrial conference is Dec. 10, 2021.


According to court filings, on Nov. 27, 2019, police were informed about a burglary that allegedly occurred three days earlier. The homeowners were said to have been working on the weekend when their house was burglarized.

The homeowner told police that when he got to his house, many personal belongings were not in their usual place and the back door was damaged.

A woman who lives nearby told police that a man driving a blue pickup, and gave the license plate number, visited the house three times the same week before the couple returned from Manu’a.

The man driving the pickup was later identified as Mapuitiga, the defendant.

Mapuitiga told police that he planned to break into the home after his friend who lived in the area told him that the homeowner was at work on the weekend. He further admitted that he damaged the back door to gain entry into the home, where he stole several items that he sold to a friend in Ottoville. He further told investigators that he and two juvenile friends burglarized the house.

The stolen items with a value of more than $1,200 were never recovered.


According to the government’s case, a homeowner reported to police that his house was burglarized and the culprit(s) gained entrance by prying open a firmly nailed plywood at the back of the house on Dec. 5th, 2020. Several items including money were removed.

When police interviewed an eyewitness about the burglary of the house, the eye witness told investigators that he saw Mapuitiga and two juvenile male individuals enter the back door of the house at night and take several items.

Court filings say that Mapuitiga told police that his two friends informed him about an open spot at the back of the house, where an air conditioning unit was to be mounted.

Mapuitiga admitted that he pulled down the plywood to gain entrance while his friends waited outside. Mapuitiga said he took items, including $250 cash that they divided among the three of them.