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Happy Valley traffic stop allegedly nets stash of drugs & paraphernalia

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The driver of a car in which police allegedly found a bag containing a white crystalline substance, marijuana joints, and drug paraphernalia has been arrested and charged.

Iosua Tapeni a.k.a Joshua Tapeni made his initial appearance in District Court last week.

He is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine; and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana — both felonies, carrying a jail term of 5-10 years, a fine of $5,000-$20,000 or both for each count.

Bail is set at $10,000.


Tapeni and another man were in a car that was pulled over by police in Happy Valley for speeding two weeks ago. Tapeni was the driver. Samoa News is withholding the identity of the passenger until he is formally charged.

When asked for identification, Tapeni presented a driver’s license and an immigration ID — both of which had expired last year.

The cop, who was speaking to Tapeni, said he noticed an object under Tapeni’s left foot and it appeared to him that it looked like a plastic baggie containing drugs.

Officers instructed Tapeni and the passenger to exit the vehicle and they were taken in for questioning while the vehicle was impounded.

At the police station, the two officers who escorted Tapeni, said one baggie containing a white crystalline substance fell out when Tapeni exited the police unit. One of the officers asked Tapeni about the baggie and he responded, “I have no idea. That does not belong to me.”

When police checked where Tapeni was seated, they found a baggie containing a white crystalline substance. During a body search, officers found a glass pipe containing a white crystalline substance on Tapeni.

An inventory of Tapeni’s vehicle netted a small bag in the back seat, containing one glass pipe with a white crystalline substance, and one baggie containing a green leafy substance.

The white crystalline substance tested positive for meth, while the green leafy substance tested positive for marijuana.

Tapeni refused to make a statement to officers regarding the illegal drugs allegedly discovered on his person and inside his vehicle.

When questioned by police, the passenger explained that he and Tapeni are friends, and they were on their way to their other friend’s home in the Tafuna area to pick up a toolbox to fix Tapeni’s other vehicle. The passenger said he didn’t know Tapeni had drugs in the vehicle, but he had heard from their other friend that Tapeni has a drug problem but he had never actually seen him smoke any drugs or have it on him.

According to the passenger, he was surprised when police found drugs in the vehicle. The passenger was released after questioning as officers continue with their investigation.