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Trash bag thrown outside of a vehicle results in alleged drug bust

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — On the night of Sept. 21, 2020, two police officers observed Ameki Talalelei throwing a black plastic bag out of a vehicle, in which he was riding, in front of an Asian store in Faleniu.

Police picked up the black plastic bag that Talalelei threw out and found a small plastic container inside that allegedly contained a stamp-sized baggie with white crystalline substance and another plastic baggie containing a green leafy substance.

Officers, who pulled the vehicle over, further observed the driver throwing something out of the vehicle right before he stopped, and discovered it was an empty soda can.

Talalelei was identified as the passenger in the vehicle and both he and the driver were taken in for questioning.

The vehicle was also impounded but later released to Talalelei’s uncle, who was present during the interview. According to the government, the vehicle belonged to Talalelei’s uncle.

When asked about the substances found inside the plastic container that was inside the black plastic bag, Talalelei told the police that it belonged to him, and that he bought it from an old friend in Vaitogi but he did not reveal the name of his friend.

Talalelei further stated to police that he had put the plastic container inside the trash bag and threw it on the side of the road after he spotted a police vehicle following their car. He didn’t think that the cops would pick up the trash bag, however, he was shocked when officers questioned him about the trash bag he threw away.

Talalelei made his initial appearance in front of the District Court last month, where he waived his right to a preliminary examination. He is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine; one count of unlawful possession of marijuana - both felonies.

Bail is set at $10,000.

During  arraignment in High Court last week, Talalelei pled ‘not guilty’ to the charges against him. Pretrial conference is scheduled for Dec. 7, 2020.

The driver of the vehicle was questioned by police, but released without being charged. It is noted in the affidavit that he was cited for a traffic violation.