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10+ Samoans charged in fed indictment for drug trafficking

37 defendants charged, more than 10 have Samoan names or are of Samoan ancestry

More than ten individuals with Samoan names are among the 37 defendants charged under six indictments for a variety of drug trafficking offenses and three of those defendants are charged with firearm offenses, according to a list released yesterday by the federal government as well as in a news release by the US Attorney’s Office in Honolulu, Hawai’i.

The indictments were handed on Nov. 30 and Dec. 7 by a federal grand jury. The indictments remained sealed until yesterday’s arrest of 22 defendants, while others were already in custody, according to federal prosecutors.

As of yesterday afternoon, the indictments were not yet available on federal electronic court records.

In a statement, US Attorney for the District of Hawai’i, Florence T. Nakakuni said the indictment alleges 105 drug trafficking offenses ranging from July 2014 to November 2016, as well as five firearm offenses.

Prosecutors say the 18 defendants arrested yesterday in Honolulu, were also to have their initial appearance and arraignment at the federal court in Honolulu. There was no information available from online records.

Based on the names released by prosecutors, Samoa News is able to identify a total of 12 individuals with Samoan last names arrested yesterday in Honolulu, with the youngest defendant at 22 years old, while the oldest is 58 years old; and two of the Samoan arrestees have the same last name.

Also yesterday, four defendants were arrested in California and three of them have Samoan last names.

Additionally, seven defendants were already in federal and state custody in Honolulu; and three of them have Samoan last names.

In total there are 16 defendants with Samoan last names — some of them with Samoan first names — charged in this case.

If convicted of the more serious drug charges in the indictment, prosecutors say defendants face up to a maximum of life in prison, with mandatory minimum prison terms of ten years.

Other charges have maximum terms of 40 years in prison, with mandatory minimum prison terms of five years, while the less serious drug offenses have maximum prison terms of 20 years.

The three firearm offenses alleging possession of firearms and/or ammunition during, and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, carry a mandatory five-year prison term consecutive to the sentence for the drug trafficking crime.

“The charges in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty,” according to the news release from federal prosecutors, who added that the arrest and charges resulted from a joint investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Honolulu Police Department.

The following are individuals with Samoan last names and ages listed in the federal press statement, although information received by Samoa News yesterday from Honolulu indicates that some of the defendants, with non Samoan last names, are of Samoan ancestry: 

Eliu Afoa, 29; Laauli Amani, 43; Aukisitino Falaniko, 38; Daryl Kuresa, 36; Duane Liupaono, 35; Dorani Luavai, 22; Dorothy Lupe, 38; Faaalo Salavea, 42; Piliopo Salavea, 45; Kilisi Toliniu, 35; Papa Tupua, 58; Alesana Vaimasanuu, 38; Jeremiah Ieremia, 26; Jeremiah Matau, 34; Faanimo Paopao, 25; Jessie Momosea, 31; and Lelauti Sakaria, 35.