Meth and marijuana lead to delayed arrest of passenger after traffic stop
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A passenger in a vehicle stopped for a traffic violation, who was taken in for questioning and later released from the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) when the 48 hour detention period expired‚ was arrested by police last month and is now charged with violating local drug laws.
Farani Pemerika made his initial appearance last month.
He’s charged with one count of unlawful possession of marijuana and one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth), both unclassified felonies punishable by imprisonment from 5-10 years, a fine of up to $20,000, or both.
The court set bail at $5,000.
During his initial appearance proceedings, Pemerika’s attorney informed the court that the defendant waived his rights to a preliminary examination (PX) and wished for the case to be bound over to the High Court.
He appeared in High Court last week where he entered a not guilty plea to the single charge against him.
Pretrial conference is now set for next month.
On Apr. 14th, 2021 about 7:20 p.m, two police officers on the Western side of the island spotted a vehicle with no license plate light. The vehicle was stopped and empty beer cans were observed inside the vehicle, which had three occupants, the driver, and two passengers.
One of the officers approached the passenger sitting in the back seat first because he kept touching his shorts. He was later identified as Farani Pemerika. The officer confronted Pemerika and asked him to step out from the vehicle because he felt unsafe seeing him with his hands in his pockets.
Pemerika agreed and voluntarily stepped out from the vehicle with his hands still in his pants pocket. The officer told Pemerika to take his hands out from his pants pockets and asked him if he had anything in his pocket that might put them (officers) in any harm’s way.
Pemerika responded “No”. The officer then asked Pemerika to take out whatever was in his pocket and had to repeat it 3 times, as according to the court affidavit, Pemerika kept responding that he had nothing inside his pants.
The 3rd time, Pemerika agreed that the officer could reach inside his pocket. The officer reached inside Pemerika’s back right pocket and discovered a plastic baggie. The officer then asked Pemerika about the contents of the baggie and Pemerika responded they were joints and a glass pipe commonly used to smoke meth, containing white crystalline substance inside.
The officer then approached the passenger sitting in the front passenger seat, who identified himself as Faaleo Sami (co-defendant). According to the officer, Sami appeared to be moving around inside the vehicle like he was trying to hide something and he kept demanding that officers let him go home.
The officer then asked Sami to open the car door because there were also empty beer cans below where he was sitting.
The officer was standing facing Sami when Sami opened the door and that’s when the officer spotted a glass pipe commonly used to smoke drugs beneath the seat.
The white crystalline substance contained in the glass pipe tested positive for meth.
Both men were placed under police custody and transported to the Tafuna Police Substation for interview.
After both men were Mirandized, they stated that they understood their rights and did not wish to make any statement to police.
Both Sami and Pemerika were detained at the TCF, however, Pemerika was released from TCF when the 48 hour detention period expired.
Last month, Pemerika was served with the copy of the arrest warrant and placed under arrest.