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Drugs found in truck being driven by 17-year old with no license

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A passenger in a black truck in which investigators allegedly found a bag containing a white crystalline substance and drug paraphernalia has been arrested and charged with unlawful possession of drugs.

Laulala Ifopo, nick named “Branch” made his initial appearance in Court last week. He later waived his right to a preliminary examination and his case has been bound over to High Court.

Ifopo, 40, is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony punishable by imprisonment of 5-10 years, a fine between $5,000-$20,000 or both.

Bail is set at $5,000


Ifopo and another male, identified as Ben Sootaga, were in a truck driven by a 17-year-old male when patrol cops pulled them over in Iliili on June 21, 2021 for having no lights over the license plate. The juvenile driver was identified as T.A.

Ifopo was in the passenger seat while Sootaga was riding in the back seat.

When asked for a driver’s license, the driver told police said he did not have any form of identification. It was later confirmed that the driver was only 17-years old and does not have a driver’s license.

As the officer was speaking to the driver, he noticed Ifopo using his left foot to push something under his seat. And when Ifopo moved his left foot, the officer saw a glass pipe commonly used to some meth, under Ifopo’s foot, along with two empty small stamp-sized baggies lying on the floor.

Everyone was then instructed to exit the vehicle. The driver was told that the vehicle will be impounded at the Tafuna Substation and all of them are being taken in for questioning. The driver agreed but Ifopo resisted, saying he needed to go home to buy food for his children. He later agreed to go with police.

Before Ifopo got into the police unit, cops checked the back seat to make sure everything was clear. At the Substation, the two cops who escorted Ifopo said three empty stamp-sized baggies fell out when Ifopo exited the police unit. One officer asked Ifopo about the baggies and he responded, “I don’t know anything about that.”

A search of the police unit was carried out, exactly where Ifopo was seated. The search netted a small pouch on the floor containing a clear glass pipe with meth; 13 empty stamp-sized baggies, and 5 empty medium-sized baggies. The white crystalline substance tested positive as meth.

During a body search, officers found two small stamp-sized baggies containing a white crystalline substance inside Ifopo’s pants. In his statement to investigators, Ifopo said he bought two baggies containing meth from a friend at the market, while the glass pipe with meth didn’t belong to him.

The other passenger was released after questioning while the juvenile driver was released to his mother.