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Traffic stop nets more meth and marijuana

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The driver of a yellow pickup truck in which investigators allegedly found a bag containing a white crystalline substance and drug paraphernalia has been arrested and charged with unlawful possession of drugs.

Tipasa Laki, a.k.a. “TEMA” made his initial appearance in District Court last month. He later waived his right to a preliminary examination and his case has been bound over to High Court.

Laki, 40, is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana; both unclassified felonies punishable by imprisonment of 5-10 years, a fine between $5,000-$20,000 or both.

Bail is set at $5,000


Laki and another male, identified as Calvin Upuese, were in a pickup truck driven by a female individual when patrol cops pulled them over in Vaitogi on Nov. 21, 2020 for having no lights over the license plate. The female driver was later identified as Carol Soloa, 39.

Laki was in the passenger seat while Upuese was riding in the back seat.

When asked for a driver’s license, the driver told police she did not have any form of identification on her. It was later confirmed that her license expired June 21, 2019

As the officer was speaking to the driver, he noticed Laki using his left foot to push something under his seat. And when Laki moved his left foot, the officer saw a broken glass pipe commonly used to some meth, under Laki’s foot.

Everyone was then instructed to exit the vehicle. The driver was told that the vehicle would be impounded at the Tafuna Police Substation and all of them were being taken in for questioning. The driver agreed but Laki resisted, saying he needed to go home to buy food for his elderly mother. He later agreed to go with police.

Before Laki got into the police unit, cops checked the back seat to make sure everything was clear. At the Substation, the two cops who escorted Laki said two empty stamp-sized baggies fell out when Laki exited the police unit. One officer asked Laki about the baggies and he responded, “I don’t know anything about that.”

A search of the police unit was carried out, exactly where Laki had been seated. The search netted a small pouch on the floor containing a clear glass pipe with meth and a small stamp-sizeed baggie containing green leafy substance.

During a body search, officers found two small stamp-sized baggies containing a white crystalline substance inside Laki’s pants. In his statement to investigators, Laki said he bought two baggies containing meth from a friend at the market, while the glass pipe with meth didn’t belong to him.

The driver, along with the other passenger, were released after questioning.