Repeat drug offender in custody again for possession of ice and weed
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 45-year-old mechanic who was pulled over for a traffic violation is being criminally charged, after police allegedly found drugs inside the vehicle.
Tavita Vui appeared in District Court last week Tuesday for a traffic citation, and ordered to return to court the next morning for a status hearing.
When Vui showed up on Wednesday, he was served with an arrest warrant, attached to an affidavit supporting the two felony charges against him.
Vui is charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine; and unlawful possession of marijuana — both class D felonies, punishable by a jail term of 5-10 years and a fine of $5,000-$20,000.
If he is able to post his $5,000 bond, Vui is ordered to comply with standard conditions, including not making any direct or indirect contact with the government’s witnesses, and not leaving the territory.
Preliminary examination is set for this Friday.
The government claims that around 6 p.m., last Tuesday, July 30th, police received information regarding a person named Willie Apelu, also known as “WILL”, with an active arrest warrant under his name, possibly riding in a blue truck with two other people.
Said vehicle was spotted an hour later in Tafuna, heading eastbound.
Police patrolling the area stopped the suspected vehicle to see if Apelu was inside. When cops approached the truck, they spoke to the driver, later identified as Vui, the defendant in this case.
Apelu was not inside the vehicle. Instead, there were two males: Vui and a male passenger identified as Ieremia Talai. Police determined that Vui is not the owner of the vehicle, and neither he nor Talai has a driver’s license.
Both men — and the vehicle — were escorted to the police station for questioning.
While there, Vui was told that the vehicle would remain at the police station until the owner comes in to claim it. That’s when Vui allegedly whispered to one of the detectives, saying he needed to get rid of some leftover food that was inside the vehicle.
Two cops escorted Vui back to the vehicle. When Vui opened the driver’s side door, cops saw him trying to hide something under the driver’s seat. Cops pulled Vui’s hand out from the vehicle and instructed him to step aside.
An inventory of the truck uncovered 2 small stamp-sized baggies containing a crystalline substance inside a small container under the driver’s seat. Also found was a rolled up joint inside a black wallet on the driver’s seat.
A glass pipe containing a crystalline substance was also found inside a baggie that was inside the vehicle.
The joint tested positive for marijuana and the crystalline substance from both the baggie and the glass pipe tested positive for meth.
During an interview with investigators, Vui allegedly admitted that the joint was his, but said he didn’t know where the glass pipe and baggies came from. A few minutes later, he changed his story and said all the drugs that were found belonged to his uncle — the owner of the vehicle.
Vui told police that he had borrowed his uncle’s truck two days earlier to transport his vegetables and bananas to the market, and also to help with his work as a mechanic.
The passenger, Talai, was released pending further investigation. Talai told police that Vui picked him up from his home in Iliili and not long afterwards, they were pulled over.
In 2013, Vui was convicted of unlawful possession of marijuana, and subsequently sentenced to 5 years probation under the condition that he serve 20 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF). His probation term ended last year.
In 2011, Vui was arrested at the Fagatogo Market for a public peace disturbance case. During a body search, police found 2 rolled up joints inside his pant’s pocket.