Two more meth cases in court
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The driver of a red pick-up truck pulled over by police officers last month for failure to stop at a stop sign is now charged with violating local drug laws.
Benjamin Lokeni was taken into custody when police discovered three small baggies containing white crystalline substance in his possession.
The government claims that while two police officers were patrolling along the Tafuna highway last month, they observed a red pick-up truck coming from the Fogagogo road that made a right turn without stopping at a stop sign.
The pick-up almost collided with another vehicle coming from Iliili road heading east. Police officers pulled the truck over. The driver was identified as Benjamin Lokeni, a 42-year old male from Mesepa. He told police that he was in a rush to pick up his elderly father-in-law from home to take him to the hospital.
During the conversation, officers smelled a strong odor of alcohol coming from the driver’s breath. When asked if he’s under the influence of alcohol, the driver replied, “Yes, and I also got some stuff on me.” Officers asked the driver what stuff he’s referring to, the driver replied, “illegal meth”.
It was at that time the driver pulled out three small baggies containing a white substance and handed them over to police officers. A pat down was conducted and nothing else was found. The driver was later transported to the Tafuna Police Station for more investigation. His vehicle was also impounded.
After reading his constitutional rights, Lokeni told investigators that he understood his rights and he refused to make a statement. He told investigators he needed to speak to his attorney about what happened.
Lokeni made his initial appearance in court last month.
He’s charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony, along with a class A misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI).
Bail was set at $5,000.
A man allegedly found with a glass pipe containing methamphetamine inside his vehicle when police pulled him over for a traffic violation over a year ago was finally arrested and charged.
The question as to why the government waited so long to charge Olataga Viliamu in this case is still unanswered.
According to the government’s case, two police officers patrolling the public highways in the Tafuna area on May 25, 2019 observed a vehicle heading westbound at a high speed. Officers followed the vehicle and made a traffic stop in front of an Asian store in the Tafuna area
The driver of the vehicle was later identified as Olataga Viliamu, the defendant in this case. When asked for his driver’s license, Viliamu told police he had forgotten his driver’s license at home, and no other form of photo identification was presented.
Police then informed Viliamu that they were going to impound his vehicle because he didn’t have a driver’s license to operate the vehicle on a public highway. Furthermore, he was also being transported to the Tafuna Police Station (TPS) for further investigation.
Before Viliamu was transported to the TPS, police conducted a body search on him and nothing was found. The search then moved to the vehicle where police discovered a black pouch between the driver’s seat and the passenger’s seat. Inside the black pouch was a glass pipe containing white powder.
The white powder was later tested and the result was positive for methamphetamine.
After being informed of of his constitutional rights, Viliamu refused to make a statement to police regarding the glass pipe containing methamphetamine.
Viliamu was arrested by police two weeks ago and made his initial appearance before Judge Elvis P. Patea.
He is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony.
Bail is set at $5,000.
During the initial appearance proceedings, Assistant Public Defender Ryan Anderson informed the court that his client wished to exercise his rights to a preliminary examination (PX).
It was during the PX last week that the government called their only witness to the stand, Det. Levi Tafaovale who was also the lead investigator in this case.
In cross examination, the defense attorney asked about the timeline for the testing for the white powder contained inside the glass pipe. Det. Tafaovale stated to the court that the test was conducted after Viliamu was released from the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) where he was held for 48 hours.