Drugs and drug paraphernalia found during a raid at Correctional Facility
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Drugs and drug paraphernalia were allegedly found at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) in Tafuna during a shake-down by the DPS Vice & Narcotics Unit last week.
Prior to the shakedown, the Chief Probation OfFIcer and his team carried out drug testing — as required by the High Court — for certain inmates who are serving time at the TCF as a condition of probation.
Last Friday’s random drug tests allegedly resulted in 3 inmates testing positive for meth.
Efforts to obtain a comment from TCF Warden, Tauese Va’aomala Sunia were met with a referral to the DPS Commish, who Tauese said is the only person who can issue a comment on the issue.
DPS Commissioner Le’i Sonny Thompson did not respond to Samoa News emails as of press time yesterday.
The three inmates who allegedly tested positive for meth appeared in High Court yesterday morning, pursuant to an arrest warrant from the court. They are now facing allegations of not complying with conditions of their probation.
They are John Tuupo, Junior Tolupo Hodges and Wayne Gasolo a.k.a Ueni Gasolo. All three are remanded to custody to await their PX hearings set for May 15th.
Sources tell Samoa News that a team of certified probation officers led by the CPO went to TCF last Friday to carry out drug testing, which is a condition of probation. Of the 8 inmates who were tested, 3 netted positive results.
Not long after, several detectives from the DPS Vice and Narcotics Unit along with drug sniffing dogs stormed the TCF and carried out a raid, which allegedly uncovered drugs and drug paraphernalia in the cells.
How the drugs were smuggled into the TCF is not clear. But a source told Samoa News suspicions are that they are being brought in during weekend family visitations.
“Family members of some inmates are suspected of smuggling drugs inside the TCF by putting them inside food items they bring for the inmates. There is no K-9 detector present at the TCF gate during weekend visitations, and this is something DPS and TCF need to look at, to make sure drugs don’t get through the main gate,” the source said.
In delivering a sentence for a young man convicted for unlawful possession of meth- amphetamine last year, Chief Justice Michael Kruse said he used to say immigrants was the major industry on island but it seems that it’s now drugs that enter the territory.
Samoa News archives show that the 3 aforementioned inmates were all convicted for unlawful possession of drugs.
Tu’upo, 45, from Samoa is serving 28 months as a condition of a 7-year probation sentence, after he was convicted of promoting prostitution and unlawful possession of a con- trolled substance (methamphetamine). He was sentenced Dec. 4, 2017.
During sentencing, Tuupo told the court he’s not a bad person, and he wants to return to Samoa to take care of his elderly mother.
Tu’upo was arrested and charged after a woman complained to police about people using her abandoned home in Tafuna to hang out. During a search of the house, police dis- covered that Tu’upo was promoting prostitution at the abandoned structure by bringing in other males to have sex with young girls in exchange for drugs.
A police search of the premises netted drugs, guns, and paraphernalia including two plastic baggies and two glass pipes — both with crystalline residue.
Upon release from jail, Tu’upo is ordered to leave the territory and remain outside of American Samoa for the duration of his probation term.
Gasolo, 24, was sentenced on Aug. 8, 2017 to serve 20 months, following a drug conviction.
He was arrested and charged after police found a glass pipe containing meth.
During sentencing, Gasolo promised he will never deal with drugs again and he will not violate any laws.
It was Gasolo’s attorney Public Defender Douglas Fiaui and Assistant Attorney General Robert Morris who asked the court for a probated sentence.
During Gasolo sentencing, Chief Justice Michael Kruse said this young man has a history of drug and alcohol abuse, as per cases led in the District Court, and also in High Court.
Conditions of Gasolo’s probation require him to remain drug and alcohol free, and he is subjected to random testing, which according to Kruse, will be conducted when Gasolo is released from jail, and during his detention period, “because I’m not sure about the facility, whether it’s drug free or not.”
She added that after Tabete was arrested, they never heard from the Attorney General about the case, until Samoa News published the story last week.
Hodges Jr. was arrested by police last month pursuant to an arrest warrant from the Probation Office, for failure to comply with conditions of his probation. Hodges was convicted for unlawful possession of illegal drugs back in 2011.