Driver and female passenger arrested during curfew stop
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The driver and a female passenger of a vehicle pulled over during a traffic stop are now in custody after being arrested and later charged with violating local drug laws.
The driver, Viliame Volau and the passenger Sweetie Tufele made their initial appearance in Court two weeks ago.
Volau and Tufele are each charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony.
Bail is set at $5,000 for each of the defendants.
On the early morning of May 1, 2022, a traffic officer contacted the DPS Vice and Narcotics Unit (VNU) concerning a possible drug case during a traffic stop. Detectives of the VNU responded to the TPS call where two people were being held, along with the evidence found during the traffic stop.
Traffic officers told investigators that while enforcing the 9p.m curfew for the emergency declaration they observed a vehicle traveling east on the Nu’uuli road. The passenger was observed with an unsealed container of Woodstock alcohol placed in the cup holder by the center console of the vehicle.
The passenger was later identified as Sweetie Tufele, the defendant in this matter who was apprehended during the traffic stop. A search of Tufele was conducted and officers discovered a glass pipe, in plain sight, sticking out from Tufele’s left pocket.
The officer immediately confiscated the glass pipe, which contained a white crystalline substance. The driver of the vehicle was then asked to pull the vehicle over to the parking space of a store.
The driver was later identified as Viliame Volau, the co-defendant in this matter.
Volau was instructed by officers to exit the vehicle due to it being on the highway during curfew hours. However, Volau refused three times to get out of car, which caused the two traffic officers to walk to the driver’s side of the vehicle, open the door and grab him out of the vehicle and place one of his hands in cuffs. The driver was then placed next to his vehicle, facing it.
It was when officers grabbed Volau’s right wrist that he yanked his left arm and reached inside his left pocket and proceeded to throw out cash and a baggie containing what appeared to be meth, stepped on it, and then tried to run away.
Necessary force was used to take down the driver and secure him.
The driver and the passenger, along with the vehicle were all taken to TPS for further screening.
An inventory search was conducted on the vehicle upon arriving at the TPS and during the search of the vehicle, officers discovered a glass pipe containing a white crystalline substance on the floor behind the front passenger seat.
The white crystalline substances were later tested and yielded positive results for meth.
The two suspects were booked and taken to the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF).
OTHER DRUG CHARGES
The government has charged a 34-year-old man with unlawful possession of illegal drugs and for trying to break into a store in Nuuuli in February of this year. Reupena Teofilo made his initial appearance in Court last month.
According to the government’s case, a man informed police about a male who tried to break into a store in the Tafuna area by using a metal pipe to damage the back door and also side windows on the night of Feb. 14, 2022 in an effort to gain entry into the store.
Several police officers responded to the call but were unable to locate the suspect. However, last month, the wife of the man who contacted police for the alleged burglary called the TPS last month saying the man her husband saw trying to break into a store in the area came to their house intoxicated.
When police arrived, the woman stated that the defendant left their house and walked to a nearby store after he heard her contact police.
Police approached Teofilo in a nearby store and asked him to come with them to the station to discuss an important issue. Teofilo started to resist by trying to push another officer away so that he could escape however, police stopped him and he was taken to the TPS for questioning.
Prior to transportation, a body search was carried out during which police discovered a small baggie containing green leaves inside Teofilo’s right pocket. He told police that the marijuana leaves found in his possession were from a friend who lived in Vaitogi.
When asked about the alleged incident where he attempted to break into a store in the village, Teofilo said he didn’t know anything about that case and he was never involved in any criminal behavior last year.
When asked why he tried to run away when police approached him in the store, Teofilo said that the reason he ran away from officers was because he had illegal drugs in his possession.
Teofilo, who has a long criminal history, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, resisting arrest and attempted burglary in the second degree — all class D felonies, along with disturbing the public peace (PPD), a class B misdemeanor.
Teofilo’s bond is set at $15,000.
A man who was arrested for disturbing the public peace (PPD) and later found to be in possession of drugs has entered into a plea agreement with the government.
Thomas Falaula appeared in court two weeks ago for a pretrial conference.
He was initially charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, a felony, and two misdemeanors: third-degree assault and PPD. But under a plea agreement, accepted by the court, Falaula pled guilty to the amended, lesser charge of unlawful possession of marijuana, a class D felony that carries a sentence of up to 5 years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.
Falaula, set to be sentenced June 28, admits that on the evening of Feb. 11, 2021 at his home in Petesa, he had on him four hand rolled marijuana joints when police arrested him for PPD.
According to the police report when cops arrived at the scene, Falaula was yelling profanities at his neighbor, with a beer bottle in his hand. During a body search, police found hand rolled marijuana cigarettes on him. Falaula admitted that the joints belonged to him, and he bought them from a man named Willie in Vaitogi.