Alleged ice dealer says he sells drugs because it’s a good and fast way to earn money
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A male driver and a female passenger of a vehicle pulled over by police officers for a seat belt violation last week are now in custody after officers discovered illegal drugs, paraphernalia, and ammunition inside the vehicle.
The driver, Murphy Taavili and the passenger, Rosie Enele made their initial appearance in District Court last week. Prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey, while Assistant Public Defender Bob Stuart is representing both defendants.
Taavili is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine; one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, both felonies; along with one charge of possession of ammunitions, a class A misdemeanor.
Enele is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony.
Taavili’s bail is set at $20,000, and Enele’s at $5,000.
During their initial appearance, both defendants waived their rights to a preliminary examination.
Their pretrial conference is set for July 27th after they each entered a not guilty plea to the charges against them during their arraignment in High Court last week.
The government claims that on the afternoon of May 23, 2020, police patrolling the highway in Leone saw a black truck being driven at high speed; and also noted that the driver was not wearing his seat belt.
Cops pulled over the truck in front of a store in Leone. And, while cops approached the vehicle, the driver of the vehicle, who was later identified as Taavili, had already exited the truck, with a black bag in his hand.
Cops instructed Taavili to get back inside the vehicle but Taavili refused and demanded to know why they had stopped his vehicle. He also asked police to show him a search warrant from the court it they are going to search his person and his vehicle. However, the matter was resolved calmly, with Taavili getting back inside the vehicle per police instructions.
A female sitting in the passenger seat was later identified as Enele, the co-defendant in this case.
When asked for his driver’s license, Taavili said he didn’t have it with him. His name was then run through the Office of Motor Vehicle’s (OMV) system and it turned out that his driver’s license expired over 3 years ago.
Police also checked the truck’s license plate and discovered that it did not belong to the truck.
Both Taavili and Enele were then asked to step out of the vehicle.
Taavili was patted down per norm, where upon a box of ammunition was found, leading to his immediate arrest.
Cops also searched the black bag Taavili had in his possession when his vehicle was pulled over, and cops allegedly discovered illegal drugs, 10 cut-up straws containing white crystalline substance, inside a medium ziploc baggie; 40 empty cut-up straw; and 50 stamp-sized baggies containing white crystalline substance inside another medium plastic baggie, and paraphernalia, as well as a handgun.
A glass pipe containing a white crystalline substance was discovered inside the vehicle between the driver’s and the passenger’s seat.
Enele was also patted down by a female cop and a glass pipe containing a white crystalline substance was discovered inside her pants pocket.
Both Taavili and Enele were taken to the Tafuna Police (TPS) for questioning where they were taken to different rooms for interviews.
When asked about the glass pipe containing white crystalline substance discovered in her possession, Enele told police that the glass pipe belonged to her. She further stated that she got the pipe from a male friend.
When asked about the illegal drugs, paraphernalia, handgun and ammunition discovered in his possession and inside his vehicle, Taavili told investigators that everything that was inside the black bag and the vehicle belonged to him. He also admitted to police that he owned the box containing ammunition.
In his written statement to investigators, Taavili stated that he bought the drugs from a man in Iliili for the purpose of selling it to earn some money for him and his family. He said he’s been selling drugs for over a year now — and it’s a good and fast way to earn money.