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Two men busted after cops execute a search warrant in Tafuna

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man accused of violating local drug laws was arrested last week. When police executed the search warrant on Malautea Atonio Jr’s home, another male by the name of Filipo Faafetai (who has an outstanding arrest warrant for a 2018 burglary) was present in the house. Both Atonio Jr and Fa’afetai were escorted to the Tafuna Substation for questioning and the pair made their initial appearances in District Court last week.

Atonio Jr is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, and unlawful possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, both felonies, punishable by imprisonment of 5-10 years; a fine of $5,000-$20,000 or both.

Fa’afetai is charged with second degree burglary and stealing, both class C felonies, punishable by up to 7 years imprisonment, a $5,000 fine, or pursuant to A.S.C.A 46.2101, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of the said crime, up to a maximum of $20,000 or both such fine and imprisonment.

Bail for Atonio Jr is $10,000, while Fa’afetai’s bail is $15,000

Preliminary examination for both men is tomorrow morning.


In the beginning of this year, police received numerous tips regarding a male by the name of “JUNIOR” selling marijuana from his home in Tafuna. Junior was later identified as Malautea Atonio Jr.

Between March and April, according to the government, DPS detectives carried out a controlled buy, using a Confidential Informant (CI) in an effort to prove that Atonio Jr was in fact selling drugs out of his home.

Police provided $30 cash to the CI to buy weed from the defendant, who agreed to meet the CI for a transaction involving $30 worth of marijuana. Police listened in during the phone conversation and they also witnessed the exchange of money and weed between the CI and the defendant.

The baggie the CI was given by Atonio Jr was handed over to police and its contents tested positive for marijuana. Last week, cops headed over to Atonio Jr’s home to execute a search warrant and when they approached the area, cops say they could detect a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the home.

Atonio Jr was home when police showed up. When asked if he had any drugs in his house, Atonio Jr said no. During the search, cops found a baggie containing a green leafy substance that appeared to be marijuana. They also found a baggie containing four hand rolled cigarettes that appeared to be marijuana joints.

When questioned by police, Atonio Jr said he started selling drugs early last year after his health problems prohibited him from working. Furthermore, he said he knew what he was doing was wrong, but it was the only way he could earn money for him and his family.


According to the government, police have been looking for Fa’afetai since late last year, after a woman filed a complaint against him for burglarizing her Ottoville home on Oct. 12, 2018. The victim said several electronics items were missing, including 2 laptops; a computer; 2 Samsung cellphones; gold earrings; jewelry items; and cash.

The victim told police that a man who lives nearby had information about the burglary. The man was later identified as Fa’afetai’s uncle. According to him, the uncle, Fa’afetai came to his house on a Saturday night asking if he wanted to buy a laptop for his daughter. The man said he asked Fa’afetai who owned the laptop, and Fa’afetai told him it was his, and he was trying to sell it because he got a new one from his sister in Alaska.

Two days later, Fa’afetai went to his uncle’s home and told him that the laptop he was about to sell him did not belong to him, it belonged to the victim’s son. Fa’afetai then changed his story to his uncle and told him that the victim’s son gave him the laptop as a gift, and he wanted to sell it because he needed money to pay for his sister’s medical bills.

When questioned by police, Fa’afetai admitted that he broke into the victim’s home last year and stole several items including jewelry, cash, and several electronic items. He further stated that he sold the items for food and beer.