New drug charge trips up man with serious pending drug case in High Court
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man with a pending drug case in High Court is now in custody after being arrested by police last week on more drug charges.
The man, Anthony Alataua made his initial appearance in District Court last week.
Alataua is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth) and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, both felonies.
Bail is set at $10,000 and Alataua is scheduled to appear in court next week for his preliminary examination (PX).
The government alleges that on Nov. 8, 2021, traffic officers were conducting a stop sign enforcement at a stop sign at the Vaitogi intersection near the Ufuti residence when a vehicle did not come to a complete stop at the sign.
Officers pulled the vehicle over and approached the driver and informed him of the reason for being stopped and at the same time the officer observed the driver holding something in his hand. The driver was later identified as Anthony Alataua, the defendant in this case.
Officers asked the driver what was in his hand and the driver told him that it was a pipe used to smoke marijuana. The officer then instructed the driver to step out of his vehicle but the driver refused. He told the officer that he’s in a hurry to pick up his wife from work and they must be back home quickly because his three young children were waiting at home.
The officer again, instructed the driver to step out of his vehicle. The driver complied and as he opened his door, the officer spotted another pipe containing white residue under the driver’s seat.
The officer asked the driver about the glass pipe on the floor under his seat and the drive’s response was, “What is wrong with you people?”
The officer asked the driver the same question about the glass pipe and his response was, “It’s a pipe used to smoke meth. ”The driver was then taken into custody and transported to the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) to await detectives of the Vice and Narcotics Unit (VNU) to take over the investigation.
When questioned by VNU investigators at the TPS, Alataua admitted that the glass pipes found inside his vehicle belonged to him. He stated he bought the two pipes from a man in Vaitogi for $25 each, two days prior to him being pulled over by cops.
He explained to investigators that he’s been involved with drugs for six months and he spends over $100 a week buying drugs from different drug dealers on the island. He refused to reveal to investigators any information related to the drug dealers he gets his drugs from.
Alataua further told investigators that he never lied to the police when they questioned him about each of the glass pipes containing the drugs.
The glass pipe containing green leafy substance was tested and the test yielded positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. The glass pipe containing white crystalline substance was also tested and the test yielded positive for meth.
Before he was taken into custody where he was booked and confined, Alataua asked investigators if the new allegation against him affects his pending drug case. Investigators explained to Alataua that the issue about his pending drug case falls under the jurisdiction of the Court, not them.
PENDING DRUG CASE IN HIGH COURT
The government alleges that drugs were found in a vehicle during a traffic stop in Nuuuli on July 12, 2019, after police pulled over a vehicle in Nuuuli for speeding. Inside the vehicle were three males.
The driver was identified as defendant Anthony Alataua and the two passengers were male juveniles. All three were instructed to step out of the vehicle and according to the government, Alataua became disorderly and refused to comply with instructions when cops were trying to carry out a body search and when he was asked to take a Standardized Field Sobriety test.
Upon patting him down, police found on Alataua a sandwich sized baggie full of a green leafy substance. An inventory of the vehicle netted a white container under the driver’s seat with several medium sized baggies, one of which contained small stamp-sized baggies with a green leafy substance. Several small baggies with a white crystalline substance were also found.
In the driver’s side door was a small baggie containing a white crystalline substance, and several empty baggies were found in a plastic container while other empty baggies were discovered on the floor under the passenger’s seat.
Cops also found a bag belonging to one of the juveniles, which contained a photo ID and a glass pipe containing a huge amount of a white crystalline substance. Both juveniles were patted down and nothing was found on them.
The government stated that Alataua and one of the juveniles were taken into custody for questioning while the other juvenile was released after he was questioned by investigator in the presence of his parents.
The juvenile questioned by investigators told police that he was at his uncle’s house in Malaeimi when he was picked up by Alataua and another juvenile around 6:p.m.
From there they went to Pago Pago, where upon Alataua asked him to stay in the vehicle while he and the other juvenile walked to a nearby house to visit his friend and come back. When Alataua and the other juvenile returned, he saw the juvenile carrying a black bag.
As they drove away from the area, Alataua shouted with joy and said, “We’re going to be rich.”
The juvenile told investigators that Alataua was holding two small baggies containing white crystalline substance inside. He also heard Alataua mention something about, “selling drugs to the boy at the store”. He didn’t know what store Alataua was referring to.
During questioning, Alataua refused to talk. He was then booked and transferred to the TCF. The juvenile — who was interviewed in the presence of his mother — also refused to talk. His mother told police she needs to speak to a lawyer. The juvenile was subsequently released to his mother’s custody.
The white crystalline substance and the green leafy substance allegedly discovered on the suspect and in the vehicle tested positive for meth and marijuana, respectively.
Based on their training and experience, investigators said that the drugs found in Alataua’s possession and in the vehicle were not for personal use, but for sale.
In this case, Alataua is charged with one count of unlawful possession of meth; one count of unlawful possession of meth with the intent to distribute; one count of unlawful possess of marijuana; and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute — all felonies.
He was released on $20,000 surety bond while awaiting the outcome of his case.