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Man caught up in traffic stop allegedly denies drugs found are his

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The driver of a vehicle pulled over by police officers during a traffic stop two weeks ago for speeding is now charged with violating local drug laws.

The driver, Filisi Vainalepa made his initial appearance in court two weeks ago. He is charged with one count of unlawful possession of marijuana and one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, both unclassified felonies, 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 $10,000


Police officers stopped a vehicle for speeding on Feb. 20th, 2021 on the Iliili road in the afternoon. The driver was later identified as Filisi Vainalepa, the defendant in this case, and the pickup was found to be registered to Catherine Vainalepa.

Vainalepa did not have his driver’s license on him and was duly issued a citation. He did not have any other type of ID either, which led to the defendant being transported to the TPS, while his vehicle was impounded.

Before Vainalepa was escorted to the TPS, he was asked by officers if he had anything illegal on him, and he told police that he did. He further stated that the illegal drugs on him did not belong to him.

Officers then conducted a body search on Vainalepa and discovered two small stamp-sized baggies containing white crystalline substance in the left pocket of his pants.

Upon arrival at the TPS, officers conducted an inventory of the property inside the truck and discovered a red box under the rear left passenger seat that contained what appeared to be a clear pipe that is commonly used to smoke marijuana, along with a black bag and a wallet that had $290 cash in it.

The Vice & Narcotics Unit was called, and one of its detectives tested the contents of the small baggies with results pointing to positive for methamphetamine, while the contents inside the glass pipe tested positive for Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an active compound in the controlled substance marijuana.

Officers later found out that Vainalepa does have a driver’s license, but it had expired in April 2018.

Officers also found on the defendant during a body search approximately $600 and he stated that it was money for his small business that needed to be deposited on the following Monday.

All property and items were recorded and taken into evidence.

After being Mirandized, the defendant informed investigators that he understood his rights and he agreed to make a statement about the incident.

According to Vainalepa, he has a small business at home. He works at his small farm at home and every Monday, he deposits money he earns during the week including over the weekend.

Vainalepa’s vehicle was pulled over by police on a Saturday afternoon.

When asked about the illegal drugs discovered in the vehicle and in his possession, Vainalepa told investigators that the illegal items found on him do not belong to him.

He said he found them inside the vehicle. He also told investigators that the vehicle belongs to his aunt and he borrowed it to run his errands, because his wife and her mother are using his vehicle to deliver some things to the Market.