Click-it or Ticket — or worse: Seat belt violation leads to drug arrest
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A male driver and a female passenger in a vehicle pulled over by police officers for a seat belt violation last month are now in custody after officers discovered illegal drugs and paraphernalia inside the vehicle.
Moreover, the male passenger was the same person allegedly involved in a hot pursuit with police two nights prior. However, police were unable to stop the vehicle the male allegedly drove, nor apprehend him, despite the fact that two senior police officers were able to identify him.
When police officers approached the vehicle they pulled over for the seat belt violation, they identified the driver as Kilave Manuele, nick name “Kill”, a 45-year-old male, and the female passenger as Lupesina Alo. Both are not new to the court, with each having previous convictions in the District Court.
The government claims that on the afternoon of June 6th, 2021, police patrolling in the Leone area saw a black pickup truck speeding; and also noted that the male driver was not wearing a seat belt.
Cops pulled over the truck in front of a store in Leone. And, when cops approached the vehicle, the driver of the vehicle, who was later identified as Kilave Manuele, had already exited the truck, with a black bag in his hand and he attempted to run away from police.
Police instructed Manuele to get back inside the vehicle, but he refused and demanded to know why they had stopped the vehicle. Manuele continued to walk backwards, away from the police, while they instructed him to stop moving. Manuele continued to ask why his vehicle had been pulled over.
However, the matter was resolved calmly, with Manuele getting back inside the vehicle per police instructions while still holding on to the black bag. Police then approached him and explained the reason why his vehicle had been pulled over.
The female passenger, who was sitting in the back seat behind the driver’s seat of the vehicle was later identified as Lupesina Alo, the co-defendant in this case.
When asked for his driver’s license, Manuele said he didn’t have it with him. His name was then run through the Office of the Motor Vehicle’s (OMV) system and it turned out that his driver’s license expired 2 years ago.
When asked why he didn’t renew his driver’s license, Manuele stated that he feared that he might get locked up because he had an outstanding warrant for his arrest 3 years ago for his involvement in a burglary incident in Leone.
(Police had no information to prove that there was a warrant to arrest Manuele for his involvement in any burglary case.)
Police also checked the truck’s license plate and discovered that it did not belong to the truck. Both Manuele and Alo were then asked to step out of the vehicle. According to the officers at the scene, both Manuele and Alo looked nervous when officers instructed them to exit the vehicle. While exiting the vehicle, a female officer observed Alo trying to reach into her rear pants pocket.
Manuele was patted down and 2 glass pipes containing white crystalline substance was found inside his left pants pocket, leading to his immediate arrest. The search continued to his t-shirt and officer discovered 2 small stamp-sized baggies containing green leafy substance.
Cops also searched the black bag and cops allegedly discovered inside it 4 cut-up straws containing white crystalline substance wrapped inside a medium ziploc baggie; 4 small stamp-sized baggies containing white crystalline substance; along with paraphernalia.
A glass pipe containing a white crystalline substance was also discovered inside the vehicle between the driver’s and the passenger’s seat.
Alo was also patted down and a glass pipe containing white crystalline substance was discovered in her pants pocket, along with two marijuana joints and $110 cash was found inside the rear pocket of her pants.
Members of the DPS Vice and Narcotics Unit were notified about the illegal drugs, and two detectives were assigned to investigate.
Both Manuele and Alo were taken to the Tafuna Police Station (TPS) for questioning. Each defendant was taken to different rooms for interviews.
When asked about the glass pipe containing white crystalline substance discovered in his possession, Manuele told police it belonged to him. He further stated that the small black bag containing illegal drugs also belonged to him. He got the stuff from a close friend and they were on their way to deliver it to another man.
Manuele mentioned the man’s name to police and the man’s name is also mentioned in the affidavit.
When asked about the illegal drugs and paraphernalia discovered in the vehicle, Manuele told investigators that everything that was inside the black bag and the vehicle belonged to him.
In his written statement to investigators, Manuele stated that the man who owns the drugs is his best friend and he was acting as a runner and he gets paid for his job, which he has done for over two months now.
On the day in question, his wife and children used their family vehicle to go to a church function, so he decided to call his friend Alo to see if she could pick him up to deliver his stuff. William agreed and a few minutes later, Alo arrived to pick him up from his home, and they went to drop off the stuff. Alo instructed him to drive because she was tired and wanted to rest in the back seat of the vehicle.
Manuele also told investigators that on their way to drop the stuff, he gave a glass pipe containing meth and two marijuana joints to Alo to show his appreciation for helping him.
When asked about his involvement in a hot pursuit with police on the previous night, Manuele denied any involvement in a hot pursuit with police. He told investigators his wife and children are at a church camp and they have their only family vehicle with them.
Alo was questioned by investigators regarding the glass pipe containing meth found in her possession.
According to Alo’s story, she confirmed Manuele’s account of her involvement, as well as being shocked when Manuele gave her the illegal drugs as a thank you for helping him.
She told investigators that she had no idea that there were other illegal drugs with them. However, when police instructed them to pull over, that’s when Manuele handed her a small black bag and told her to get out and run. She said she didn’t know what was inside the bag and noted that the glass pipe found inside the car belonged to Manuele. He placed the glass pipe there when police pulled over their vehicle.
Both Manuele and Alo were transported to the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) where they were booked and confined.
Both made their initial appearances in Court last month.
Manuele is charged with one count of unlawful possession of meth; one count of unlawful possession of meth with the intent to distribute; one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, all felonies.
Alo is charged with one count of unlawful possession of meth and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, both felonies.
Manuele’s bail is set at $20,000, and Alo’s at $5,000.
Manuele was convicted by the High Court on the charge of conspiracy to commit fraud and was sentenced to 5-year probation with the condition that he serve a period of detention of 20 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF). He was one of the co-defendants involved in a stealing scam at a local supermarket some years ago. Manuele provided fake receipts to prove that money was already received.
Alo had been arrested and charged with one count of unlawful possession of meth, after a police raid of her friend’s house in Petesa in February of 2019 while she was also present.
Alo’s case was bound over in High Court, and she remained in custody unable to post a $20,000 surety bond.
However, in March of last year, Alo’s case was dismissed after the court granted the government’s motion to dismiss the case against the defendant. The government cited in their motion to dismiss that Alo was “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”