Court Report: More meth charges — another plea agreement
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 33-year-old man accused of violating local drug laws has entered into a plea agreement with the government. Aleni Mareko, who has been in custody since his arrest last year, appeared in Court last week for a Change of Plea (COP) hearing.
Mareko was initially charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth) with intent to distribute; one count of unlawful possession of methe; one count of unlawful possession of firearms, all felonies; along with one count of unlawful possession of ammunition, a class A misdemeanor.
But under a plea agreement with the government, accepted last week, Mareko pled guilty to the charge of unlawful possession of meth with intent to distribute, a felony, punishable by imprisonment from five to ten years, a fine of up to $20,000, or both.
By his guilty plea, Mareko admits that on Aug 7, 2020 in American Samoa, he unlawful possessed illegal drugs with the intent to distribute.
Mareko further admits that on the day of the incident, police conducted a body search suspecting that he was in possession of illegal drugs.
During that search, police discovered a medium baggie containing a quantity of meth. He also admits that police found 4 cut up straws containing meth in his possession.
According to court documents, Mareko’s vehicle was pulled over by police for a traffic violation and Mareko was seen taking a gray bag from the vehicle that was allegedly involved in an illegal chase with police earlier.
The bag was found to contain 14 bullets for a 22. handgun; 3 small cut up straws containing white crystalline substances (which tested positive for meth); a medium sized baggie containing white crystalline substances (tested positive for meth); 29 medium sized empty baggies; an iPhone 6 with a blue phone cover and several other objects (all noted on property forms), and a total of $1,345 in cash.
Sentencing for Mareko is set for next month.
Co-defendant in this case is Tasi Tuitagaleoo whose case is pending in High Court. Tuitagaleoo is still in custody awaiting trial.
A man was arrested by DPS Vice & Narcotics Unit last month for alleged drug possession.
Lusila Saili made his initial appearance in court last month and the court has scheduled his preliminary examination (PX) for next Thursday at 10:30a.m.
Saili is charged with one count of unlawful possession of marijuana; and one count of unlawful possession of meth; both felonies.
Bail is set at $10,000.
The government claims that on June 12th, 2021, detectives of the DPS Vice & Narcotics Unit arrested Saili and another man in Tafuna for public peace disturbance. Both men were dropped off separately to the Tafuna Police Substation for questioning.
Before heading out, one of the officers went back inside the TPS to check on the two men. When the officer opened the door, he saw another male sitting next to Saili, trying to get something from inside Saili’s pockets.
The officer immediately pulled the male aside. He was later identified as Saili’s nephew. At the same time, the officer saw two hand rolled cigarettes near Saili’s feet and underneath his feet was a small clear baggie containing a white substance. The officer proceeded to search Saili’s nephew to see if he took anything from his uncle’s pockets.
When officers interviewed Saili’s nephew, he stated that when he arrived at TPS, he went inside the office to ask his uncle for a cigarette.
He said that as he was grabbing for cigarettes inside his uncle’s pocket, an officer walked in and saw what he was doing.
The nephew told police that his uncle has a heart problem and is on multiple medications. Furthermore, according to the nephew, Saili has a habit of smoking meth.
Saili refused to provide any information to police. He however was acting disorderly and repeatedly accused the officers of being racist.
According to the affidavit, Saili's blood shot eyes, slurred speech, and the strong odor of alcohol emitting from his breath indicated that he was intoxicated.
A man who is on 5 years probation for a drug conviction was arrested by police last month and charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance.
Ueli Faasolo made his initial appearance in Court last month.
He is charged with one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, to wit; methamphetamine (meth), a felony punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than five nor more than ten years and a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than $20,000, or both.
Bail is set at $5,000.
Faasolo waived his rights to a preliminary hearing during his initial appearance.
He appeared in High Court last week for arraignment where he entered a not guilty plea to the single charge against him.
Pretrial conference is scheduled for August.
Around 4 p.m on June. 21, 2021, several police officers were patrolling the Leone area, when one of the officers spotted Faasolo standing in front of a store. Faasolo had an outstanding warrant for his arrest.
Faasolo was apprehended and transported to the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) for questioning. Before Faasolo was transported to the TPS, a body search was conducted and during the pat down, police discovered a glass pipe containing white crystalline substance.
When questioned by police, Faasolo stated that the glass pipe was given to him by another male individual named Tevita. He also stated that he had smoked from the pipe a few moments earlier before police officers arrested him.
Police tested a portion of the white crystalline substance inside the pipe and the test yielded positive results for meth.
In October 2016, Faasolo was sentenced by the High Court to 5 years probation after being found guilty of unlawful possession of meth.
In 2018, while serving his period of detention, Faasolo, along with some other inmates tested positive to meth, when a representative from the Probation Office conducted a drug test.
The court did not revoke Faasolo’s probation but modified it, and ordered the defendant to serve 3 months at the TCF.