Traffic stop leads to discovery of white crystalline substance alleged to be meth
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man involved in the case where 4 males were charged and convicted of assaulting another man with a machete a few years ago in now facing drug charges.
Alapati Faamanatu made his initial appearance in District Court last week. He later waived his right to a preliminary hearing and the case has been bound over to High Court.
Faamanatu is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine and one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute - both felonies, carrying hefty fines and lengthy jail terms.
Bail is set at $10,000
On Jan. 2, 2020 two cops who were across from the ASCC stopped a speeding vehicle that was heading west. Two males were in the car. The driver was Alapati Faamanatu, and he didn’t have on him a valid driver’s license or any other form of ID. (It was later confirmed that his license expired Dec. 17, 2016).
Faamanatu was told that his vehicle will be impounded at the Tafuna Substation and he will be taken in for questioning. He was handcuffed and rode in the passenger seat of his vehicle while a cop took the wheel.
Before heading to the police station, Faamanatu handed a red bag to the officer, to give to his passenger (Samoa News is withholding the passenger’s name, as he is yet to be criminally charged). The cop asked the passenger if the bag belonged to him and the passenger said no, it belongs to Faamanatu.
The passenger was placed in the police unit and police held on to the bag until their arrival at the police station. Once there, the cop returned the bag to Faamanatu who still claimed that it belonged to his passenger. When a senior officer asked if they could search the bag for any form of ID, Faamanatu said okay.
The search netted 10 small stamp-sized baggies containing a white crystalline substance that tested positive as meth.
When questioned by police, the passenger said he has known Faamanatu for only 4 weeks and they met during a drinking session with his friends, who introduced them to each other. He said Faamanatu would ask him for help with yard work and on that day, he picked him up to help mow his lawn in Fagaalu
According to the passenger, Faamanatu had the red bag in his car when he picked him up; and after mowing the lawn in Fagaalu, he asked for his help again. This time, with cleaning his sister’s yard in Iliili.
The passenger said he agreed and when they were stopped by police, he saw Faamanatu stuff the red bag under his seat and was surprised when police told him Faamanatu said the bag was his.
One of the cops who escorted Faamanatu to the substation told the lead investigator that during the ride, Faamanatu behaved strangely. He looked nervous and wouldn’t stop moving and kicking. Enroute to the substation, Faamanatu grabbed the ash tray and spilled its contents on the floor. When asked what he was doing, Faamanatu did not respond.
During questioning, Faamanatu told police the red bag didn’t belong to him, it was his passenger’s.
Faamanatu’s vehicle was searched in his presence. Police found 2 glass pipes containing a white crystalline substance on the floor of the passenger side, wrapped in a black t-shirt. There was also a green leafy substance scattered all over the sides of the rug on the passenger side. Two closed off straws were also discovered under a soda can in the passenger’s side cup holder.
During arraignment in High Court last week, Faamanatu entered ‘not guilty’ pleas to the charges against him. Pretrial conference is Feb. 20, 2020.