Traffic stop leads to arrest of man with long history in the court system
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man who is on probation for a drug conviction as well as having a pending drug case in court from last year was arrested again two weeks ago on another drug case.
Ah Chong Lefatia made his initial appearance in Court two weeks ago. He is charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony — and bail is set at $5,000.
On the night of May 2, 2022, detectives of the DPS Vice and Narcotics Unit were informed about a possible drug case at the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS).
Detectives responded to the call and interviewed traffic officers who responded to the case where drugs were allegedly discovered. Detectives were informed that the suspect was in custody and the contraband confiscated and was now at the TPS.
The suspect was later identified as Ah Chong Lefatia, the driver of the vehicle pulled over by police for a traffic violation.
Traffic officers stated to investigators that they were on patrol, when they saw Lefatia not wearing his seatbelt while driving a vehicle, and pulled him over for the violation.
They approached Lefatia and explained to him why they stopped his vehicle and asked him for his driver’s license but Lefatia said he did not have one.
Lefatia was asked to exit the vehicle and he complied. Officers searched Lefatia for weapons and contraband and noticed a blue bandana with a glass pipe sticking out from it. Officers confiscated the bandana and the glass pipe from Lefatia before he was handcuffed and placed inside a police unit. Lefatia was transported to the TPS for further investigation.
Detectives received the glass pipe, which contained a white crystalline substance that was then tested and which yielded positive results for methamphetamine (meth).
Lefatia was Mirandized and he said he understood. He refused to cooperate with investigators.
Lefatia was arrested by police on January of 2021 during a traffic stop when officers discovered drugs in his possession and inside his vehicle.
He was charged with one count of unlawful possession of meth; one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, both unclassified felonies, 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; along with one count of resisting arrest, a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment for up to 5 years, a fine of $5,000, or both.
Bail was set at $10,000.
The previous case, was also a traffic stop initiated by police, who were patrolling on the Puapua public highway, on Jan. 06, 2021, and observed a vehicle turning right onto a family property without any signal.
When the vehicle was stopped, officers observed the driver’s door open and saw an unknown male (driver) exiting from the driver’s side and walking towards the passenger side of his vehicle. Officers approached the unknown male and saw the driver holding in his hand a cross-shaped iron lug wrench.
One of the officers recognized the vehicle description and its license plate from a prior incident during the Christmas and New Year traffic enforcement.
A police officer then instructed the driver to put down the iron lug wrench but the driver refused to cooperate, and instead swung the lug wrench and pointed it at officers. However, one of the traffic officers snatched the lug wrench from the driver and informed him of the reason the vehicle had been stopped.
When officers requested his driver’s license, the driver refused to comply, refusing to provide a valid driver’s license or any form of identification document but only verbally stated that his name is Junior.
Officers then informed the driver that his vehicle would be impounded and he was being detained at the TPS for further investigation. That’s when the driver pushed and shoved one of the police officers and ran away heading west where he was subdued by officers about 10 yards away from where the vehicle had stopped.
The driver continued to resist, yelling profanities and fighting off officers, but he was subdued, apprehended and transported to the TPS.
During the interview, the driver was identified as Ah Chong Lefatia, the defendant in this matter. Lefatia was informed of an outstanding bench warrant issued by the court for his arrest of which he was then served.
Lefatia was patted down and officers discovered a glass pipe containing a white crystalline substance inside his underwear waistband.
Also discovered was a medium sized baggie containing a white substance in Lefatia’s front pocket.
During the inventory of the impounded vehicle in Lefatia’s presence, officers discovered a medium size baggie that contained green leafy substances in the armrest between the driver and the front passenger seats.
The white crystalline substance discovered in Lefatia’s possession tested positive for meth; and the green leafy substances tested positive for Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an active compound in the controlled substance marijuana.
Lefatia was Mirandized where he stated that he understood and wished not to sign the first portion of the form and would sign only the second portion (waiver) to a verbal statement regarding the incident.
According to Lefatia, he did not recall or know anything.
In March of 2020 Lefatia was sentenced to five years imprisonment and a fine of $2,000 after he was convicted of unlawful possession of meth. He admits that on August of 2019 he had in his possession a stamp-sized baggie containing meth when police searched him. He was placed on probation for 5 years and ordered to serve a period of detention of 20 months in jail.
While waiting in jail for sentencing on his original conviction, as Lefatia was unable to post his bond, he was arrested again, one month later, along with three other inmates for the allegedly beating up another inmate at the TCF. Lefatia, along with the three other co-defendants were each charged with one count of public peace disturbance (PPD).
Lefatia was convicted by the District Court for PPD and was sentenced to 12 months probation.