Inmates: Visiting families bringing drugs into American Samoa's prison
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Detectives from the DPS Vice & Narcotics Unit continue to investigate how drugs and drug paraphernalia allegedly entered the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), which came to light after 3 inmates tested positive for meth last month.
Some detainees at the TCF have told Samoa News that drugs are being smuggled into the TCF during weekend family visitations.
“Family members of some inmates are suspected of smuggling drugs inside the TCF by putting them in the food items they bring for the inmates. There is no K-9 detector present at the TCF gate during weekend visitations, and this is something DPS and TCF need to look at, to make sure drugs don't get through the main gate — again,” a source said.
According to information from some TCF inmates, the drug paraphernalia police found when they searched the TCF last month were brought inside by the girlfriend of a former inmate, who departed the territory last month after serving his detention period.
According to the inmates, the girlfriend came to visit her man during normal visitation hours last month. But TCF guards on duty that day failed to monitor her. She allegedly walked from the main gate straight to the RSAT building and hand delivered a package of food to the former inmate.
“No family members are allowed to go past the area designated for inmates and visitors to sit down and have lunch. But on the day in question, the girlfriend of the former inmate was able to walk straight to the RSAT building and personally hand deliver the food to the former inmate,” one inmate said to Samoa News.
The former inmate is identified by another inmate, as Sio Olomali’i who, according to the complaint, also tested positive for meth when the Chief Probation Officer and his team drug tested certain inmates — as required by the High Court as a condition of probation.
One inmate told Samoa News they tried to offer some information to the team of investigators who came to the TCF last month to look into this incident; but unfortunately, “nobody wants to listen to our stories.”
“Despite the fact that we’re serving time at the TCF, we also want to help the DPS in finding ways to stop illegal drugs from entering the TCF,” an inmate told Samoa News.
“Family visitation during the weekend is one of the many ways illegal drugs enter the TCF, and the only way to stop it is to have a K-9 dog present when family members come to visit inmates. Not all family members who come for visitation are involved in such things, but there are a few the TCF guards need to screen and keep an eye on, to make sure they are clean when they enter the facility,” said one of the inmates.
Samoa News should point out that there are a lot of changes that have been made since the DPS Vice & Narcotics Unit conducted a shakedown of the TCF last month.
Some of the changes include the installation of a new fence inside the TCF compound, to separate the inmates from where prison personnel conduct their daily work.
A corrections officer confirmed to Samoa News that this is one of the many changes the new warden recommended when he took over, to ensure prison guards are safe at all times when they conduct their work.
Another change is that another double fence on the back side of the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) building has been built, to make sure the area is secure at all times.
Samoa News has also observed that the front of the building where visitors enter is no longer ‘open’ to an outside view or from the road and vise versa from the inside. Instead a brick wall blocks the view, while allowing visitors to enter from each end of this wall.
Prior to last month's shakedown, the Chief Probation Officer and his team drug tested certain inmates at the TCF. Of the 8 inmates who were tested, 3 of them came back positive for meth. They are John Tuupo, Junior Tolupo Hodges, and Wayne Gasolo a.k.a Ueni Gasolo.
Tuupo, Hodges, and Gasolo appeared in High Court last month for Probation Revocation hearings, for failure to comply with conditions of their probation. Both Tuupo and Gasolo have admitted to the violation and they are will appear in court this Friday for a Deposition Hearing. Hodges on the other hand will appear in court next month for a preliminary examination hearing.
Inmates from the RSAT building at TCF told Samoa News last week that no drugs were found during the shakedown, only drug paraphernalia. They also claim that 4 inmates, not 3, tested positive for meth.
The RSAT building is specifically for inmates who have been convicted of unlawful possession of illegal drugs
According to a complaint Samoa News received 2 weeks ago from several inmates inside RSAT housing, it’s been almost a month since they were locked up in the Maximum Security unit at TCF without food, water, or even showers, but they have not been found to have violated any TCF rules.