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Indy prosecutor called to work with DOJ on trafficking

reporters@samoanews.com

Samoa News has learned that Fa’amomoi Masaniai — while still the territory’s Independent Prosecutor — has taken up temporary duties in Washington State following a request by the U.S. Justice Department.

Masaniai is fulfilling a special request from the federal agency to assist them in understanding the human trafficking problem in American Samoa, according to information received by Samoa News.

The USDOJ is seeking to know which government official(s), high ranking matai, and government agencies are allegedly coordinating with the Asian Mafia known as the Triad to bring foreigners into American Samoa to take jobs that belong to local residents, while being forced to work for basically nothing and held on island without any documents to return home.

One of the largest human trafficking cases prosecuted by the USDOJ — which captured worldwide attention — came out of American Samoa, when more than 200 Asians workers were imported to work at the now closed Daewoosa Samoa factory. Since then, there has been local and federal attention focused on Asians transiting through the Pacific region into American Samoa, but not much was made public until a January 2010 raid by local law enforcement of the ASG Immigration Office, where warrants were served to obtain documents and files.

It was part of a local investigation, involving the local Department of Homeland Security, into possible human trafficking of Asians into the territory through Samoa, according to court documents at the time. It was also revealed in the same court documents that Masaniai and ASDHS agents with OTICIDE had also traveled to Apia to carry out their investigation. The status of this investigation remains unknown.

Meanwhile, Samoa News understands that Masaniai is also assisting USDOJ at looking into several ASG programs that may be in violation of federal regulations.

It’s unclear at this point as to how long Masaniai will be on the mainland, but it’s understood that, if any of his cases pending in High Court are called, someone will step in for the time being, or Masaniai will participate via phone conference call.

Samoa News reporter Fili Sagapolutele contributed to this report.



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