Two men arrested at traffic stop — one charged and one released
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Two men were arrested during a traffic stop last month. Both were booked and confined at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF). One is now charged while the other one — Tevita Laloata — was released when the 48 hours expired.
Alatasi Fereti is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, an unclassified felony punishable by imprisonment from 5-10 years, a fine of up to $20,000, or both.
Fereti made his initial appearance in District Court last month.
Acting Associate Justice Elvis P. Patea set bail at $5,000.
On July 24th, 2020 about 2:20a.m, two police officers on the Western side of the island spotted a vehicle with no license plate light. The vehicle was stopped and empty beer cans were observed inside the vehicle, which had three occupants, the driver, and two passengers.
The driver of the vehicle was later released after he was questioned by police.
One of the officers approached the passenger sitting in the back seat first because he kept touching his shorts. He was later identified as Tevita Laloata. The officer confronted Laloata and asked him to step out from the vehicle because he felt unsafe seeing him with his hands in his pockets.
Laloata agreed and voluntarily stepped out from the vehicle with his hands still in his pants pocket. The officer told Laloata to take his hands out from his pants pockets and asked him if he had anything in his pocket that might put them (officers) in any harm’s way.
Laloata responded “No”. The officer then asked Laloata to take out whatever was in his pocket.
According to the court affidavit, the officer asked Laloata a couple of times and Laloata responded that he had nothing inside his pants. The officer asked Laloata for the fourth time to remove whatever was inside his pocket because it might be a weapon.
Laloata then agreed that the officer could reach inside his pocket. The officer reached inside Laloata’s back right pocket and discovered a plastic baggie with contents inside, a glass tube (glass pipe) and prescription glasses. The officer then asked Laloata about the contents and Laloata responded they were joints and a pipe. The glass pipe found in Laloata’s possession was clean, no residue was found inside. He was later released pending further investigation
The officer then approached the passenger sitting in the front passenger seat, who identified himself as Alatasi Fereti. According to the officer Fereti appeared to be moving around inside the vehicle like he was trying to hide something and he kept demanding that officers let him go home.
The officer then asked Fereti to open the car door because there were also empty beer cans below where he was sitting.
The officer was standing facing Fereti when Fereti opened the door and that’s when the officer spotted a glass pipe commonly used to smoke drugs beneath his seat.
A body search was conducted on Fereti and police discovered two small baggies containing white crystalline substance in his right pocket.
The white crystalline substance tested positive for methamphetamine.
According to Fereti’s statement to police, he was at the store when a pick up truck pulled up on his side. He saw his friend Laloata sitting in the back seat of the vehicle while he didn’t recognize the person who drove the vehicle.
Fereti’s stated that Laloato instructed him to get inside the truck and they headed to a house in Vaitogi to get some ice. According to Fereti, it was Laloata who went to the house to buy drugs while he waited in the vehicle with the driver.
Laloata returned and gave Fereti three glass pipes containing methamphetamine while he kept one glass pipe for himself.
When asked by police, Laloata echoed Fereti’s statement.