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Probationer charged in new drug case after he was allegedly found with meth

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A father of four young children who is on probation after being convicted of felony drug possession is now back in custody after police allegedly discovered a quantity of illegal drugs in his possession during a traffic stop last month in Matu’u.

Peneuefa Vaiavi’i is charged with one count of unlawful possession of meth and one count of unlawful possession of meth with intent to distribute, both felonies which carry an imprisonment sentence between 5 to 10 years, a fine between $5,000 and $20,000, or both; along with one count of resisting arrest, a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

Vaiavi’i made his initial appearance in District Court last month where the court set a $15,000 surety bond.

The preliminary hearing is now scheduled for Thursday this week.

Court records show that Vaiavi’i is on probation from both District Court and High Court.


The government’s case against Vaiavi’i stems from an incident that occurred on Sept. 15 when his vehicle was stopped for having an expired license tag, speeding, and the driver was not wearing his seatbelt.

Officers radioed the dispatcher for a quick check on the status of the license plate, with the dispatcher stating that it had expired two years ago.

Officers pulled the vehicle over and approached the driver to explain the purpose of the stop. Vaiavi’i argued that he had renewed his vehicle registration in November of last year.

And, while officers were speaking with the defendant, one officer saw the defendant trying to reach into his right pocket. When officers instructed the defendant to turn off his engine and step outside, the defendant resisted and started to move his vehicle forward.

A few moments later, the defendant agreed to comply with police. As it turned out the defendant also did not possess a valid driver’s license — it also had expired two years ago.

The vehicle was then impounded and taken to the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS), where one of the officers started issuing citations to the defendant for the violations and further informed him that the vehicle would be inventoried because it was being impounded.

A pat-down was also conducted on Vaiavi’i per normal procedures where a medium sized baggie was found in the defendant’s right pocket. Inside the baggie were two small stamped-sized baggies containing white crystalline substance.

During the inventory search of the vehicle — with the defendant present — police observed a black pouch underneath the passenger seat. Inside the black pouch were 2 cut-up straws containing a white crystalline substance.

Vice and Narcotic Unit (VNU) was called and traffic officers handed over the plastic baggie containing the white crystalline substance to the officers of VNU, who took over the investigation.

The white crystalline substance tested positive for meth.

The defendant was Mirandized and then made a verbal statement about the incident.

According to Vaiavii’s statement to police, the meth found in his possession and inside his vehicle did not belong to him — he found the drugs inside his vehicle.

However, during the course of the interview, Vaiavi’i changed his story and according to his statement, admitted that the illegal drugs found in his possession and inside the vehicle belonged to him.

He bought the drugs from an old friend in Vaitogi, he said. Vaiavi’i provided the location of his friend’s house along with his name and contact information to investigators.


After his initial appearance in District Court, Vaiavii appeared in High Court for his Order to Show Cause (OSC) hearing on the allegation that he violated conditions of his probation after he was arrested in the recent case.

His defense attorney told the court that the allegation against his client is based on the new affidavit, and his client has entered a denial to the allegation of non compliance with conditions of his probation.

The defense attorney further told the court that he needs more time to speak to his client regarding the new allegation.

The court set the PX for Vaiavi’i in two weeks time to allow him and his attorney to confer about this case.


In February of 2019, the court sentenced Vaiavi’i to probation, with jail time, after he was convicted of unlawful possession of meth.

Vaiavi’i was ordered to serve 20 months in jail as one of the conditions of a 5-year probation term, of which he was to serve 10 months, which included the 5 months he had already served in pretrial confinement. The remaining 10 months were stayed as long as he was in compliance with conditions of his probation.

He was also banned from entering any bars, taverns, or businesses that sell alcohol, and he was not to congregate with people who were doing drugs or consuming alcohol.

Vaiavi’i, a citizen of Samoa was also ordered to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the remaining terms of his probation. However, the court stayed this condition based on his good behavior.