Police search warrants net two after meth found in related cases
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Two men arrested after police officers executed two search warrants last month are now charged with violating local drug laws.
One man was arrested when police executed the search warrant on a vehicle and a home in Taputimu, while a second search warrant was executed on a vehicle in Vaitogi, where police also discovered drugs, and the driver of the vehicle was arrested and is now being charged.
The two men are Tolai Viliamu a.k.a Willie and Atapana Atapana Jr, and they made their initial appearances before District Court Judge Elvis P. Patea last month, where they waived their constitutional rights to a preliminary examination.
The two defendants appeared in High Court at the beginning of this month for arraignment where they entered not guilty pleas to all the charges against them. Their first pretrial conference is Nov. 30th.
Viliamu, who owns the vehicle where drugs, drug paraphernalia and money were allegedly found as well as in his home in Petesa, is charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance, to wit; methamphetamine with intent to distribute and unlawful possession of a controlled substance, to wit; methamphetamine, both class felonies.
Viliamu’s cash bond has been set in the amount of $20,000.
Atapana Jr, who is also on probation, is charged with one count each of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, to wit; methamphetamine, a felony 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.
Cash bond for Atapana Jr is $5,000.
According to the government case, on Sept. 20th, 2020 around 9:30 a.m police officers executed a search warrant on a white pickup truck parked on the side of the road in Taputimu after police spotted Viliamu’s vehicle while he was speaking to another male individual walking on the road.
Police approached the driver of the vehicle, who was later identified as Viliamu, and informed him about the search warrant and asked him to exit the vehicle. There was also a female individual inside Viliamu’s vehicle, who was also instructed to exit the vehicle for a body search. The female, who was named in the affidavit, was let go by police after she was frisked and later interviewed at the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS).
Nothing was found on her during the body search, and during her interview, she told investigators that Viliamu was her boyfriend and they had been on their way to pick up a mechanic to fix a vehicle for Viliamu.
She further told police she knows nothing about the items founds inside the vehicle, but explained that she had seen a lot of ‘stuff’ — ice or ’aisa’ — and money inside Viliamu’s vehicle whenever she entered it.
She is alleged to also have told police that before they were pulled over by police, they had gone to Leone so Viliamu could deliver methamphetamine to a person; and that that same person had bought $100 worth of marijuana from Viliamu while they were there.
She further stated that every time she went to Viliamu’s house, she noticed many vehicles and people coming to Viliamu’s residence. There was a time, according to the passenger’s statement to police, when Viliamu told her not to say anything about people coming to his house to pick up their supplies. He also told her that if she loves him, she needs to keep what she saw a secret only between the two of them.
“I asked Viliamu what supplies he was talking about, and he smiled and told me that it was illegal drugs,” she told police.
The court affidavit states that when Viliamu was asked to exit his vehicle, Viliamu immediately asked one of the officers if he could help him to get away from this and he would meet him later ‘to square things up’. The police officer told Viliamu to comply with investigators’ instructions, after which Viliamu was frisked and immediately detained inside one of the police units for safety reasons that were not explained in the affidavit.
When Viliamu’s vehicle was searched, he again asked the police officer if he could help him, however the police officer opened the rear passenger side door of the vehicle, where a yellow envelope was immediately observed under the passenger side seat .
Pointing to the yellow envelope, the officer asked Viliamu what was inside it. Viiamu responded, “It’s drugs”.
Found inside the yellow envelope were four stamp-size baggies each containinga white crystalline substance, as well as a glass pipe containing a white crystalline substance, one cut up straw containing a white crystalline substance, 2 empty baggies differing in size, and USD $850 cash — mainly in $20 dollar bills.
The white crystalline substances found in the glass pipe, the cut-up straw and baggies tested positive for methamphetamine.
After completing the search of Viliamu’s vehicle, the police then moved to his residence also in Taputimu where police discovered empty cut up straws and two glass pipes in a vehicle that was parked outside of Viliamu’s home. No drugs were found in that vehicle, only paraphernalia.
No drugs or paraphernalia was in Viliamu’s house.
ATAPANA JR’S CASE
Around 3:15 p.m, on the same day, a red pickup truck was observed and stopped by police in the Vaitogi area. The driver of the vehicle was later identified as Atapana Jr.
Police approached Atapana Jr and informed him about the search warrant. When a physical search was conducted on Atapana, two small baggies containing crystalline substance were discovered in the front right pocket of his pants.
In his statement to police after being advised of his constitutional rights, Atapana Jr stated he found the baggies in a friend’s vehicle, and he picked them up and put them in his pocket without his friend’s knowledge.
When police asked Atapana Jr who his friend was, he replied, “WILLIE”. Willie is another name for Tolai Viliamu, the co-defendant in this case.
He further stated to police that he knows Willie sells drugs. He stated “that everyone knew it.”
Atapana Jr. was sentenced to 5 years probation by the High Court in 2016, after being convicted of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, and was ordered to serve a period of detention of 20 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF).
However, the court ordered Atapana Jr to serve only 10 months of his period of detention, while the remaining period of detention was stayed until further order of the court.