Young man allegedly used savings to start drug biz to ‘fulfill his dream’
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A young man accused of drug possession told police he bought drugs from “LE FILIFILI” — from a man named CHIKO for $2000 using his savings from his GI bill benefits, because he wanted to start a music career, and starting a drug operation would bring in more money to fulfill his dream.
Matthew Lagai made his initial before District Court Judge Elvis P. Patea this week.
He is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine; one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute; one count of unlawful possession of marijuana; and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana with intent to distribute - all felonies, punishable by imprisonment of not more than 10 years and a fine of not more than $20,000 or both, for each count.
Bail is set at $50,000 and the preliminary examination is Monday, Dec. 30th
On the night of Dec. 5th, the DPS Vice and Narcotics Unit was contacted after traffic cops allegedly found drugs in a vehicle (plate #5554) that was pulled over in front of an Iliili store. Four officers who were patrolling in the iliili area stopped a truck for an inoperable license plate light. Five males were in the vehicle: 4 adults including Lagai, and one juvenile.
Two cops approached the driver’s side while a canine, Lucy, carried out an exterior sniff of the truck. Lucy alerted to the front and rear passenger side.
That gave cops reason to clear out the vehicle, detain everyone who was inside, while a search of the vehicle’s interior was carried out. Under the back seat, cops found a white envelope with three small baggies containing 96 cut-up straws with a white crystalline substance. Police also found a small baggie containing a green leafy substance in the front compartment, and under one of the 4 passengers, two smaller baggies with a white crystalline substance were found.
All five males (who are all named in the court affidavit, including the juvenile) were patted down and taken in for questioning.
While two cops were searching the vehicle, two others were assigned to keep an eye on the five males who were sitting on the ground. One officer noticed Lagai touching his pockets. When Lagai was placed inside the police unit, cops allegedly found a small baggie containing a white crystalline substance where he had been sitting.
In a verbal statement to police, Lagai admitted to owning the drugs found in the vehicle. He said he had the white envelope but stuck it under the back seat when they were pulled over by police. According to Lagai, he bought the drugs from “Le Filifili” for over $2,000 from a man named Chiko, using his savings from his GI bill benefits. He told police he wanted to start a music career and starting a drug operation would bring in more money to fulfill that dream. Lagai refused to make a written statement.
When questioned by police, the driver of the vehicle, (who is also the vehicle owner), said he, along with three males (two adults and one juvenile) were heading to drop off chairs to the bowling alley for their family rental business. Enroute, they picked Lagai up on the Taputimu road.
The driver said all 5 of them went to drop off the chairs and on their way home, they were pulled over in Iliili. He said he was shocked when police found drugs in his vehicle.
A passenger who was interviewed, echoed what the driver told police. He said he never saw anybody stick drugs under the back seat, as he was looking back when police pulled them over.
Police also interviewed the juvenile. Attempts to contact the juvenile’s parents were unsuccessful. When asked what he was doing in the vehicle, the juvenile said he was picked up in front of a store in Vailoa by the driver, to help transport chairs to the bowling alley.
The juvenile told police that when they were pulled over, Lagai passed a brown envelope to him and he gave it to another passenger, who refused to take it. The juvenile then hid the envelope in his shirt and when he got out of the vehicle, he threw it over a nearby rock wall.
At 11:30 p.m. that same night, two detectives along with the juvenile went to the area where the vehicle was stopped, in an effort to locate the envelope. Police found the envelope where the juvenile said he threw it.
Inside the envelope were 90 small baggies containing a green leafy substance; a small baggie with 15 hand rolled marijuana joints; and another small baggie with 6 cut-up straws containing a white crystalline substance.
The green leafy substance and white crystalline substance yielded positive results for marijuana and meth, respectively. The 4 adults were booked and held for 48 hours while the juvenile was released to his mother. Samoa News understands the government has charged only Lagai in this matter. The other three adults were released when the 48-hour hold expired.