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House Speaker validates value of scanner system at Port

[SN file photos]
House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale says scanner detected hidden items in a car that was shipped under his name

House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale says he can vouch for the effectiveness of the multi-million-dollar scanner system at Port, because the machine was able to detect items that were hidden inside a vehicle that was shipped from off island, under his name.

Savali's comments were made yesterday during a House hearing on an administration bill to update the local tax table.

When the floor was open for general concerns and questions, it was Vice Speaker, Rep. Fetui Fetu Jr. who led off, wanting to know from Acting Chief of Customs, Keith Gebauer whether the new scanners are still running, and whether Customs has discovered any suspicious items inside any of the containers since the scanners were launched earlier this year in April.

Gebauer said the scanner unit and the K-9 unit are working collaboratively, and they have discovered things that have been mis-declared and under-declared, which have led to further investigations.

He added that there was a technical problem with the M60 scanner, but the issue has been fixed and the Port scanner unit - as well as the one at the airport - are both up and running.

Referring to the many complaints recently voiced about police officer presence at the airport, Fetui asked, if the scanner unit at the airport is running smoothly, why are there so many people present at the airport instead of at your office and the K-9 unit?

Talauega said it is all a part of Governor Lolo M. Moliga's plan, which is to have all law enforcement agencies in the territory working together to address the problem of drugs entering American Samoa.

He said all law enforcement agencies need to work together as a team, and not against each other.

To follow up on the scanner issue, Savali told the committee members and the task force that if there’s anybody who can testify about how good the government's new scanner is - it's him.

This is because, according to him, the new M60 scanner at the main Port was able to detect items that were stashed inside a car that was shipped from off-island, under his name. According to Savali, he didn't have any knowledge of the items until they were discovered by the new scanner.

Meanwhile, the vehicle in question, a black Jeep Cherokee with California license plates, has been moved from the Customs warehouse and is parked in front of the DPS Central Station in Fagatogo.

Two months ago, Samoa News reported that Savali said the vehicle belonged to his son-in-law, and that he had already provided a statement to police.