Ads by Google Ads by Google

Taxi driver in custody since 2020 pleads guilty to possession of meth

Court Report logo

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The 42-year-old taxi driver who was charged with unlawful possession of a glass pipe containing methamphetamine (meth) after his vehicle was pulled over by police in December of 2020 pled guilty in High Court.

Sapati Laloata, who has been in custody since his arrest, unable to post a $5,000 cash bond, appeared in High Court last week for a Change of Plea hearing.

Laloata was originally charged with one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, meth, a felony punishable by not less than five or more than ten years in jail, and a fine of not less than $5,000 or more than $20,000, or both.

In a plea agreement with the government last month, Laloata pled guilty to unlawful possession of meth. With his guilty plea, Laloata admits that on Dec. 11, 2020 he unlawfully possessed a glass pipe, which contained meth.

According to the plea agreement, on the morning of Dec. 11, a man called the Tafuna Police Substation to report something he noticed when a taxi picked him up from Aua and dropped him off at his work place in Fagatogo.

The driver of the taxi was later identified as Laloata, the defendant in this case.

The government claims that when the passenger jumped inside the taxi in Aua, the driver immediately asked if he wanted some “weed”. The passenger asked Laloata what he was referring to, and Laloata responded, “I got marijuana if you want it.”

The passenger was uncomfortable throughout the ride; and immediately after he was dropped off at his work place, the man contacted the TPS and alerted them about the situation, including all the information regarding Laloata and his vehicle.

Not long afterwards, police located the taxi on the Fagatogo highway heading to Utulei and immediately pulled it over. After a brief conversation with police, Laloata agreed to a body search and a search of his vehicle. That's when a glass pipe containing meth was discovered inside the left pocket of Laloata’s pants.

The white crystalline substance inside the glass pipe tested positive for meth.