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Man faces drug charges after being stopped for speeding

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The driver of a vehicle stopped by patrolling police officers for speeding was arrested and charged for unlawful possession of illegal drugs.

Ionatana Filipo made his initial appearance in court last month.

Filipo is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine; and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana — both felonies.

Bail is set at $10,000.


The government claims that in the early morning of Nov. 21, 2020, two officers who were patrolling the Tafuna area pulled over a vehicle that was speeding while heading east.

Officers observed the vehicle swerving and overtaking vehicles as it took a wide turn into the Vaitogi road.

Cops stopped the vehicle in front of an Asian store and the driver, later identified as Filipo, did not have a driver’s license or any kind of identification.

After finding out that there was no record of a driver’s license for a Ionatana Filipo, officers informed the suspect that he would be detained.

It was then that Filipo told officers that he was in a hurry and had to rush home because his uncle needed to use the car to go to work. Officers told the suspect that he needed to calm down while they do their job; however, the suspect kept telling them that he needed to go home.

While cops were trying to apprehend the suspect, he resisted and started a scuffle. Officers tried to pull the suspect out of the vehicle, but the suspect allegedly punched one of the officers in the eye; and then tried to close the door while cops were still trying to pull him out.

One of the officers was holding on to one of the suspect’s arms, but he slipped and lost his balance, and that’s when the suspect kicked him. The suspect kicked again and hit the officer’s left eye.

The scuffle continued but cops were able to handcuff Filpo and transport him to the Tafuna Police Substation. The suspect’s vehicle was impounded. During inventory of the vehicle, police found a small pouch attached to the keychain.

When asked what was inside the black pouch, the suspect shook his head and said, “nothing, it’s just a black pouch.”

Officers asked the suspect for consent to open the pouch and the suspect agreed saying, “go ahead and open it, there’s nothing inside. What are you looking for?”

Upon unzipping the pouch, cops discovered a small stamp sized baggie with a white crystalline substance inside.

A more thorough search of the vehicle netted a black backpack behind the driver’s seat. The backpack was see-through and officers saw a small glass pipe commonly used to smoke meth.

When asked about the backpack, the suspect said he didn’t know anything about the backpack, or who owns it. In the backpack, however, police found another small glass pipe containing a white crystalline substance; a clear plastic ziplock bag containing a green leafy substance consistent with marijuana, and several other small stamp sized baggies.

After he was Mirandized, Filipo said he understood and he wished to make a statement to the police.

In his verbal and written statement, Filipo apologized to officers for what had happened when they arrested him in front of the store. He told investigators his mind was out of control when police officers pulled over his vehicle knowing that he had some “stuff” that he’s not supposed to have.

Two nights prior to the day his vehicle was pulled over by officers, Filipo told investigators that he was at his uncle’s house to help him clean his yard. That’s when his uncle gave him ice and marijuana.

Filipo refused to reveal to investigators his uncle’s name. He said he didn’t want his uncle to be in trouble.

The white crystalline substance tested positive for meth while the green leafy substance tested positive for Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an active compound in the controlled substance marijuana.